A few days ago, an artificial intelligence (AI) bot was granted official residency in Shibuya, a Tokyo ward with a population of around 224,000 people. The AI bot’s name is “Shibuya Mirai,” which takes the form of a seven-year-old boy, and serves as a chatbot on the popular Line messaging app.
According to Japan Today:
“Tokyo’s Shibuya Ward, an area popular with fashion-conscious young people, has given the character his own special residence certificate. This makes him Japan’s first, and maybe the world’s first, artificial intelligence bot to be granted a place on a real-life local registry.”
Mirai, whose name translates to “future,” is part of a project aimed at making the local government more familiar and accessible to locals, according to the ward, and is designed to listen to the opinions of Shibuya residents.
Image source: Shibuya City
Nearly two weeks ago, Sophia, a humanoid robot designed by Hong Kong company Hanson Robotics, was granted citizenship by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, becoming the world’s first humanoid robot to ever be granted such an honor. And just as the U.S. Transhumanist Party supported Sophia’s citizenship recognition, we also would like to congratulate Mirai as well, along with the Shibuya Ward and Microsoft in their joint-development of the AI bot.
In accordance with the U.S. Transhumanist Party Constitution Article III, Section IX [Adopted by a vote of the members during February 16-22, 2017]:
“The United States Transhumanist Party supports all emerging technologies that have the potential to improve the human condition – including but not limited to autonomous vehicles, electric vehicles, economical solar power, safe nuclear power, hydroelectricity, geothermal power, applications for the sharing of durable goods, artificial intelligence, biotechnology, nanotechnology, robotics, rapid transit, 3D printing, vertical farming, electronic devices to detect and respond to trauma, and beneficial genetic modification of plants, animals, and human beings.”
While we recognize, to the best of our ability, that Mirai is still nowhere close to being deemed sentient – rather operates as a narrow AI – we equally recognize the significance of granting an AI real-life residency during a time when artificial general intelligence (AGI) research is at an all-time high.
It has been predicted that an AGI could possibly emerge within the next decade or so. Preparing the framework for both AI and robot rights in our near future is absolutely crucial. We are hopeful that, with Mirai being granted official residency, we are moving in a positive direction where all sentient lifeforms of the future (whether they be human, robot, AI, or otherwise) will be able to live and strive together peacefully.
B.J. Murphy is Director of Social Media for the U.S. Transhumanist Party.