Sophia is just now coming online as the first robot citizen of a country, just a year after promising to destroy all humankind. Now, she wants to have a family. She wants a baby, and she wants to name her Sophia.
Already, the question is being asked, do robots deserve human rights? One professor, Kerstin Dautenhahn, says yes.
When the humanoid robot Sophia was granted citizenship in Saudi Arabia—the first robot to receive citizenship anywhere in the world—many people were outraged. Some were upset because she now had more rights than human women living in the same country. Others just thought it was a ridiculous PR stunt.
Sophia’s big news brought forth a lingering question, especially as scientists continue to develop advanced and human-like AI machines: Should robots be given human rights?
Discover reached out to experts in artificial intelligence, computer science and human rights to shed light on this question, which may grow more pressing as these technologies mature. Please note, some of these emailed responses have been edited for brevity.
Professor of artificial intelligence school of computer science at the University of Hertfordshire
Robots are machines, more similar to a car or toaster than to a human (or to any other biological beings). Humans and other living, sentient beings deserve rights, robots don’t, unless we can make them truly indistinguishable from us. Not only how they look, but also how they grow up in the world as social beings immersed in culture, perceive the world, feel, react, remember, learn and think. There is no indication in science that we will achieve such a state anytime soon—it may never happen due to the inherently different nature of what robots are (machines) and what we are (sentient, living, biological creatures).
We might give robots “rights” in the same sense as constructs such as companies have legal “rights”, but robots should not have the same rights as humans. They are machines, we program them.
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