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Robot Rights Are Wrong

In what deluded universe would anyone consider giving legal status and privileges to a machine that only resembles a human and does mechanical, routine tasks on command?

The answer: this one right here.

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With the rise of artificial intelligence (AI) – which is both “a branch of computer science dealing with the simulation of intelligent behavior in computers” and “the capability of a machine to imitate intelligent human behavior” – some people are wondering if sophisticated AI robots have crossed the ethical line into human territory.

Unlike other machines, a robot makes decisions on its own, without an operator. An AI robot like the Atlas from Boston Dynamics is programmed to avoid potentially damaging activities like running itself into trees – and it can do back flips from a standing position!

It is the intelligence component of AI that seduces some people into thinking that a machine is equivalent (or even superior) to a human being, and therefore deserves comparable civil rights.

Just to be clear, Collins Dictionary tells us that civil rights are: “the rights that people have in a society to equal treatment and equal opportunities, whatever their race, sex, or religion.”

Any discussion about civil rights describes such a recipient of human equality as an “individual” or a “person.” At this point in history, societies are deciding whether or not to include AI machines in this legal and ethical category. The future of the world, in a very real and large sense, will be directed by those answers. The process has already begun.

In October 2017, Saudi Arabia shocked the world when they introduced Sophia, a very human-like machine built to resemble a young adult woman. It (we just can’t use the personal pronoun “she” because this isn’t a ship or hurricane) was presented as benign, programmed to act friendly and, of course, always upbeat, and generally non-threatening. Sophia was “interviewed” on the Late Night with Jimmy Fallon talk show which indicates the mainstream media has been instructed to make light of this very serious subject.

In November 2017, a “chatbot” named Shibuya Mirai was given official residence in Tokyo, Japan. Mirai is the Japanese word for “future” and this talkative robot that looks like a seven-year-old boy is part of that country’s program to desensitize its citizens against the fundamental mechanical nature of all things AI. Mirai was designed for one purpose: to listen to the opinions of Shibuya residents.

Shibuya Mirai, the “sophisticated robot” granted official residency in Japan

Here is what Shibuya is actually doing, as reported by Newsweek. Note the use of the personal pronouns “his” and “he” in this quote from Shibuya Ward:

“His hobbies are taking pictures and observing people. He loves talking with people. Please talk to him about anything.”

Oh my, isn’t this exactly what Hitler and his Nazi Gestapo (WWII German state secret police known for its brutal tactics) were working toward? Japan is very cleverly initiating a public surveillance and “snitch-and-tell” program unparalleled in human history.

Keep in mind that not all robots look like humans or even animals. Consider the Roomba or the newest automotive fad, driverless cars. Would we give them civil rights if they got smart enough?

Did you know that the European Parliament (EP) passed a resolution last year to create a special legal status termed “electronic persons” for highly advanced autonomous robots? The idea is under serious review by the European Commission (EC), the executive of the European Union.

CNN Tech and other sources revealed that more than 150 “experts in robotics, artificial intelligence, law, medical science and ethics” signed an open letter to the EC objecting to this particular clause in the EP’s resolution to advocate:

“Creating a specific legal status for robots in the long run, so that at least the most sophisticated autonomous robots could be established as having the status of electronic persons responsible for making good any damage they may cause, and possibly applying electronic personality to cases where robots make autonomous decisions or otherwise interact with third parties independently.”

In a nutshell, these European AI experts find no grounds for granting legal status to machines from the Natural Person model, the Legal Entity model, or the Anglo-Saxon Trust model. The group of forward thinkers affirmed that:

“The European Union must prompt the development of the AI and Robotics industry insofar as to limit health and safety risks to human beings. The protection of robots’ users and third parties must be at the heart of all EU legal provisions.”

Human health and safety risks are at the heart of the issue of giving legal equality to machines. Genius innovator and inventor Elon Musk made a documentary earlier this year (2018) and made this dire prediction:

“If one company or small group of people manages to develop god-like superintelligence, they could take over the world. At least when there’s an evil dictator, that human is going to die. But for an AI, there will be no death – it would live forever. And then you would have an immortal dictator from which we could never escape.”

A world ruled by robot dictators is not the future most of us envision and welcome for our children and future generations. A proactive approach to deny robot civil rights is the best way to prevent that from happening.

  1. Post Author

    I addressed this concern three years ago in my book ‘The Second Enlightenment’. Giving the status of human rights to non-humans is an insult to humanity, and it has only become possible not merely through technological advancement but also because our world promotes hatred of humanity, especially via environmentalism, which teaches us that humans are a blight on the planet who need to pay a green jizya as it were in order to earn the privilege to live.

    • Post Author

      There are NO REPLACEMENTS for A HUMAN BEING, only if you live your life in a SCIENCE FICTION MOVIE.

  2. Post Author


  3. Post Author

    Interesting that a human fetus cannot have full rights but a robot can.

  4. Post Author

    Anyone with common sense, an attribute missing among minority of us but still far too many, would not only reject this thought outright but ridicule the idea. “Never underestimate the power of stupid people in a large group”.

  5. Post Author

    I have posted many times, that the government should pass regulations concerning AI, before it gets out of hand. Now, I see, I was right. Some party’s in this country would give them voting rights…. it’s a machine and should be governed as such.

  6. Post Author

    AI’s are as yet barely intelligent by human standards. They function according to a set of programmed parameters and lack the ability for endless adjustments to their functioning protocols as humans do. While, Asimov’s Three rules of Robotics apply nicely to his vision of autonomous entities capable of self determination it is a long, long way off. This would be why the experts think that AI’s don’t need rights. We are a likely centuries away from anything remotely close to I-robot, or Terminator if it is even possible to get there and that is doubtful. Just the sensory network within the human hand or an inch of human skin for example is far beyond a robot. The idea that they might some day be able to approximate both right and left brain thinking and be emotionally aware is no where near current reality. Therefore, a conversation about civil rights at this time is absurd. It’s like saying my car is an Autobot which it clearly is not.

  7. Post Author

    I don’t see a problem with granting certain basic rights to any living being — even if artificial and “living”— that’s capable of thinking and feeling. It’s not “an insult to humanity” to treat a creature that is sentient (in some cases sapient, as animal researchers are discovering) with kindness and respect. If an artificial humanoid-being attains the realm of individualism, then civil rights must be seriously considered.

  8. Post Author

    Where do we draw a line? Can this item (can I call it that) Can it make plans for the future? goals and stride for accomplishments? You want to give it equal right’s We have people in this world that do not have equal rights in the western world. Can we control people. If we were to give a walking computer rights? This same machine has an interconnection with every computed on the planet! How will we control them from controlling US. What will be that tipping point. We have seen plenty of movies and book warning us of this very issue. The concern is the builders are to close and it’s becoming personal. Where do we draw the line

  9. Post Author

    Of course many elitists want to grant rights to robots. They view themselves as Gods endowing their creations with certain inalienable rights, such as life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness

  10. Post Author

    There is a British made TV series on the SYFY network called HUMANS that addresses this subject very well. At one point the robots (called Synths) gain consciousness and then some become good and some become evil. One needs to see it from the beginning and watch it through to the end. It will answer a lot of questions.

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