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Some futurists, including Ray Kurzweil, predict that in the far future, humans will invent machines with intelligence rivaling our own.

If a robot achieved consciousness, would it then deserve certain rights as a rational being?

asked Oct 03 '11 at 10:06

JK%20Gregg's gravatar image

JK Gregg ♦

edited Oct 04 '11 at 15:15

Andrew%20Dalton's gravatar image

Andrew Dalton ♦

Would it then "deserve" certain rights? What are rights that would qualify them as being either deserved or undeserved?

(Oct 03 '11 at 18:45) dream_weaver ♦ dream_weaver's gravatar image

Perhaps deserve is the wrong verb.

Since humans have rights due to their nature as rational beings, would a robot - having reached the same level of rationality - also have rights?

(Oct 03 '11 at 18:50) JK Gregg ♦ JK%20Gregg's gravatar image

Man's rights depend on the whole context of human life -- the fact that man is a living entity with a volitional rational faculty on which his survival depends, with mutually voluntary, mutually beneficial trade as the only productive way for humans to deal with each other. The question of rights for a conscious machine (if such a thing someday comes into existence) would depend on the whole context of what the machine can and can't do, who brought it into existence, whether or not its continued existence is conditional, what its continued existence depends on (if it's not unconditional), and so on. The whole idea of a machine with a human-like volitional rational faculty seems so far-fetched at present (and/or based on faulty identifications of what man's conceptual conscious actually can do) that imagining such a thing is exactly that -- imagination, the stuff of science fiction.

A closely related question would be for a living organism indistinguishable from a human being, but created in a test tube from pre-human chemical materials (such as completely synthetic DNA not derived from any living person). If that happens someday, it would be equivalent to giving birth to a human baby (if the clump of cells is allowed to develop that far). Once the "baby" is born, and is human in all essential respects, it has a right to life, and it is the responsibility of its "parents" (until or unless it is offered for adoption and accepted by adoptive parents). Certainly no one would have a right to create an artificual human being and then use it as a life-long slave. (If one wants to ask about an organism that is almost at that level but not quite, in some essential respect that makes it unable ever to function independently as a normal human being, then we are talking about a different context. Humans do routinely keep living pets and other trained animal helpers, usually quite properly.)

answered Oct 04 '11 at 02:20

Ideas%20for%20Life's gravatar image

Ideas for Life ♦

edited Oct 04 '11 at 02:32

Yes. Rights exist to secure our freedom to live. An AI machine that isn't capable of self-support has no rights. Intelligence alone doesn't give real men a duty to provide support (electricity and maintenance). The value of the intelligence might cause some men to want to support the AI, but the AI would still be owned -- without rights.

(Oct 04 '11 at 08:58) John Paquette ♦ John%20Paquette's gravatar image

No, machines will never have rights.

"Intelligence rivaling our own" does not equate to consciousness, much less to life.

Rights apply to living entities who depend on rationality for their survival and who have free choice -- which rules out machines, no matter how "intelligent" they might appear to be.

answered Oct 30 '11 at 04:09

Rick's gravatar image

Rick ♦

Why the downvote?

(Jan 08 '12 at 00:56) Rick ♦ Rick's gravatar image

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Asked: Oct 03 '11 at 10:06

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Last updated: Jan 08 '12 at 00:56