From DeepFest to Deep Trouble: Saudi Robot’s Debut Generates Controversy Over AI Behavior

When a robot debuts for the first time, it should be a celebratory event, but when it comes to Android Muhammad, the first Saudi robot, his debut was nothing close.

Arriving at Riyadh’s major tech festival, DeepFest, all was fine until Android Muhammed met Rawya Kassem, the TV presenter of Al Arabiya. While talking, he extended his hand toward her back, supposedly touching her.

How Did People React?

The entire incident was filmed, and we can see Kassel wide-eyed and shocked by the inappropriate move by the robot. The 7-second video immediately went viral, sparking outrage across social media.

Norwegian jazz musician and composer Ole Morten Vågan kept it simple: “What spiritual influence is behind the programming of this robot?” Another user felt it was merely clickbait: “You’re suggesting the robot has enough built-in intelligence to know how to harass? Or maybe the headline ‘robot moves its arm’ wouldn’t get enough clicks.”

Others are making speculations and theories about his behavior, with some saying that he might be attempting a handshake.

What Did The Developers Say?

Behind Android Muhammed are his creators, QSS Systems, who, in response to the backlash, said that the robot operates autonomously. “We have already conducted a thorough review of the footage and the circumstances surrounding the incident, and there were no deviations from the expected behavior of Muhammed,” they said in an official statement.

The developers did say they’ll take additional measures to make sure that no one gets too close to the robot and within its area of movement.

So, what do you think? Was it a misread innocent handshake or something more? What does this also mean for the future of robots in general?

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