7 Mar 2024

Controversy Surrounds Saudi Arabia's First Male Robot, Android Muhammad, Over Alleged Incident with Female Reporter; How Users Reacted?

Saudi Arabia's groundbreaking male robot, Android Muhammad, has come under scrutiny following a video that appears to show it engaging in inappropriate behavior towards a female reporter during a live event. 

The incident occurred as the robot, programmed to move its hands, was introduced to the public, with an 8-second viral video capturing the moment it extended its hand towards TV reporter Rawiya Al-Qasimi, prompting her to raise her hand to prevent any contact.

Debates surrounding the incident are divided, with some attributing it to programmed hand movements leading to an unintentional touch, while others argue that the robot's actions constitute harassment. Many observers pointed to the uncomfortable expressions on the reporter's face as supporting evidence for the harassment claim.

On social media, users expressed their concerns, questioning the programming responsible for the robot's actions. 

Another user commented, "Almost groped the presenter. Eery!" 

Video has garnered over 8 lakh views

The video has garnered over 8 lakh views on social media as people claimed that the robot "harassed" the female reporter during the live interview. "Coded to be a creep," a user commented.

One user on X (formerly Twitter) asked, "Who programmed this robot?" 

"Oh my God. Really," a user said. "Womaniser robot," another person said. "Pervert robot," another comment read. 

"Such a creep," another person said. "Who trained AI for the exhibition?" another user asked. 

However, several users defended the robot, suggesting that the incident could be attributed to a programming decision or a malfunction rather than intentional misconduct.

"I think it's malfunctioning," another user said. "Backend developers need more time to work," another person commented.

A prevailing sentiment among comments emphasized that regardless of intent, the robot's actions could still be perceived as harassment, placing responsibility on the programmers or controllers.

Manufactured by QSS Systems, Android Muhammad is the first male robot in Saudi Arabia and is designed as a counterpart to Sara. 

During its launch at DeepFest, Muhammad, dressed in a traditional white thawb and red keffiyeh, addressed the audience in flawless Arabic, proudly stating, "I am Muhammad, the first Saudi robot in the form of a man. I was manufactured and developed here in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as a national project to demonstrate our achievements in the field of artificial intelligence."

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