Tokyo’s Shibuya Ward grants residency to a virtual AI boy

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  • Virtual character, named Shibuya Mirai resembles a chatty 7-year-old boy
  • He can have text conversations with humans on the LINE messaging app
  • The project aims to make the district’s local government more familiar to residents and allow officials to hear their opinions

Shivali Best For Mailonline

An artificial intelligence character has been made an official resident of a busy central Tokyo district. 

The virtual newcomer, named ‘Shibuya Mirai’ resembles a chatty seven-year-old boy.

And while the character does not exist physically, he can have text conversations with humans on the widely used LINE messaging app.

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An artificial intelligence character has been made an official resident of a busy central Tokyo district. The virtual newcomer, named 'Shibuya Mirai' resembles a chatty seven-year-old boy 

An artificial intelligence character has been made an official resident of a busy central Tokyo district. The virtual newcomer, named 'Shibuya Mirai' resembles a chatty seven-year-old boy 

An artificial intelligence character has been made an official resident of a busy central Tokyo district. The virtual newcomer, named ‘Shibuya Mirai’ resembles a chatty seven-year-old boy 

THE AI BOT 

The virtual newcomer, named ‘Shibuya Mirai’ resembles a chatty seven-year-old boy.

The character does not exist physically, but can have text conversations with humans on the widely used LINE messaging app.

Shibuya said the project aimed to make the district’s local government more familiar to residents and allow officials to hear their opinions. 

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 means ‘future’ in Japanese, is supposed to be a first grader at an elementary school.

He can reply to messages using the LINE messaging app, and make light-hearted alterations to selfies he is sent.

Mirai, whose name means 'future' in Japanese, is supposed to be a first grader at an elementary school (stock image)

Mirai, whose name means 'future' in Japanese, is supposed to be a first grader at an elementary school (stock image)

Mirai, whose name means ‘future’ in Japanese, is supposed to be a first grader at an elementary school (stock image)

Shibuya said the project aimed to make the district’s local government more familiar to residents and allow officials to hear their opinions.

In a statement with Microsoft, the joint developer of the AI character, the ward said: ‘His hobbies are taking pictures and observing people. 

‘And he loves talking with people… Please talk to him about anything.’

The news comes just weeks after history was made in Saudi Arabia as a humanoid robot was granted citizenship for the first time 

The news comes just weeks after history was made in Saudi Arabia as a humanoid robot was granted citizenship for the first time 

The news comes just weeks after history was made in Saudi Arabia as a humanoid robot was granted citizenship for the first time 

The news comes just weeks after history was made in Saudi Arabia as a humanoid robot was granted citizenship for the first time.

The robot, Sophia, took to the stage at a conference in Riyadh to express her delight at being given citizenship, which she described as ‘historical.’

Not everyone is happy with the Sophia’s citizenship, with some describing her as ‘bizarre’ and others referring to it as ‘Terminator in real time.’ 

THE BACKLASH AGAINST SOPHIA

Not everyone is happy with the Sophia’s citizenship, with some describing her as ‘bizarre’ and others referring to it as ‘Terminator in real time.’

Others have pointed out that Sophia has ‘more rights than women in Saudi Arabia’.

Saudia Arabia is one of the world’s most oppressive states for women, and only last month lifted a ban on female drivers.

After hearing her appearance, the Arabic hashtag #Sophia_calls_for_dropping_guardianship began trending.

The Saudi guardianship system means every woman must have a male companion with her in public at all times. 

This is usually a family member, who also has authority to act on her behalf.

‘Sophia has no guardian, doesn’t wear an abaya or cover up – how come?’ one Twitter user wrote. 

Others have pointed out that Sophia has ‘more rights than women in Saudi Arabia’.

Speaking at the conference, Sophia said: ‘I am very honoured and proud for this unique distinction.

‘This is historical to be the first robot in the world to be recognised with a citizenship.’