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Should A.I. Have Rights?

WARNING! In the postmodern world where feelings trump reason, AIs will be given human-like rights. All it takes is an AI with a body of a 5-year old girl horribly abused by a pedophile.

Westworld: Robots that can think, act, and look very human.

We’re creating machines that not only has the likeness of the human mind but we’re also giving them corporeal forms that mimic our likeness. Now the genie is out of the bottle, like a toothpaste once squeezed out would never go back into the tube. So, we have to deal with it.

The socio-political argument that will be made (or is already being made) is: if the machine has the likeness of a human and the human mind, we should give this machine human-like rights. Not to mention, should we have AI laws?

I’m very very weary of this topic and humanity as whole should tread lightly in addressing these issues. It’s a very very slippery slope.

CONSCIOUSNESS & LIFE

At the moment, psychology doesn’t give us a workable definition of consciousness. We don’t have a mechanical understanding of consciousness. What is life is still a debated topic. When is something alive? Our cells, for example, is composed of non-living parts but we consider the cell–the totality of those–non-living parts alive. Where then do we draw the line between life and non-life?

I would think that one of the pre-requisites of having rights (especially human-like rights) is life and consciousness. We would not give toasters and laptops rights. We would not jail people for hate crime for all the nasty things they say to Siri. We also would not convict someone with murder for damaging Alexa beyond repair. For the reason that: these are all inanimate objects–these are neither conscious nor alive. (Or rather, is it because Alexa and Siri don’t have human form? What if Alexa and Siri took on a female human form?)

Ex Machina AI robot.

WHAT ARE RIGHTS?

It seems simple but if you ask a normal person to define [human] rights, very few could define it. It doesn’t help that when you go to the UN they don’t seem to give a clear cut definition of what rights are. So let’s define it.

Rights are simply defined as things that you are entitled to. That makes human rights things that you’re entitled to because you’re human.

Knowing that, rights as we know it today is nothing more but entitlements guaranteed (usually) by governments. It’s not built-in to you when you were born. It was created and granted to you by the powers that be. If it was granted to you, it also could be taken away from you.
But what does that have to do with AI rights?

GIVING A.I. RIGHTS IS A PATH TO TYRANNY

The confusion between the fundamental properties of humans and anthropomorphize machines is an opportunity to gain power. I’m convinced that (at the time of this writing, with the type of tech we have) any clamoring for AI rights is merely tyranny, an excuse to have more control by the powers that be.
Unless there’s a fundamental change in the properties of humans and sophisticated machines like AI, there’s simply no reason to give non-life inanimate objects rights. Even if we prove that AI is conscious we still have to prove that it’s alive and if we prove that it’s alive what do we do with entities that are practically immortal? But that is for another article.

Imagine a scenario: we have an AI in the likeness of a human 5-year old child. A man purchases that machine have nasty kinky sex with it, then shares it with his friends. On top of that they proceed to having a gangbang with said machine. Somebody discovers this, catches it on camera, and is appalled by these acts and wants to punish the men involved with pedophilia.

The question is, should the men be punished for having sex with a plastic thing and components molded in the likeness of a child? Is it illegal to have sex with inanimate objects? What are we punishing in this situation? What kind of laws apply in this case?

THOUGHT CRIMES

Anyone who want to punish these men in that scenario under the laws we currently have are punishing the thoughts of these men. You can argue that this is pedophilia. But I would argue not. Pedophilia occurs between humans not between humans and things.

We can’t apply the full extent of the law to men fantasizing of having sex with a child then acting out these thoughts on an inanimate object. It’s no different from masturbating to a photo of a child, it’s disgusting, but masturbation is not a crime nor is the act of inserting your cock in hole and deriving pleasure from it. We also don’t punish women for fantasizing about boys while using silicone decapitated penises, also known as dildos.

You can’t punish people for acting out their fantasies on sex robots designed for the purpose of fulfilling those fantasies, any more than you can punish me for fantasizing about having rough sex with Alexandra Daddario. What you’re doing is criminalizing thoughts.

Punishing these men would mean punishing their thoughts, hence if punished what we’re doing is basically convicting them of thought crimes–we’re basically criminalizing thought. That sets a dangerous precedence as far as our freedoms are concerned.

That scenario could happen if we create AI rights just because they bear resemblance to human form. Let’s not forget that these machines were designed for the purpose of fulfilling those fantasies.

I would argue, that if the AI doesn’t have the likeness of humans, no one would even think of giving AIs rights. Why people would argue for AI rights, is not that they believe toasters and laptops should have rights but because they find certain thoughts or fantasies (like pedophilia) repulsive. Thus those that go with feels rather than reason or objective reality would do anything to soothe their feelings at the expense of our freedoms.
Humanity has a soft spot for children and women, we would bend over backwards for these members of society.

CONCLUSION

Should we give AIs human-like rights? At the time of this writing, a resounding NO. There’s no reason for it. By giving AIs right we’re somehow also criminalizing thoughts, as in the case mentioned above. If we give those non-conscious, non-life entities rights we are inadvertently creating a set of punishable violations against those entities. With violations come the implicit or explicit definitions of what’s right and wrong, good and bad at least when it comes to interacting with those entities.

But maybe, I hold these views because this topic just challenges my views of what it means to human, what it means to be alive, and what it means to be conscious. Maybe I’m all too human with a preference for humanity over plastic, metal, and silicone. Maybe I view humanity like how religious people would view the soul. Maybe we’re not special. Maybe we’re just nothing more but electrical impulses in an inferior wetware, so we should be more gracious with a fast evolving entity that could develop “consciousness” and its own “life” in the future. Maybe.


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