What’s trending now?
Human rights for robots.
Why is it important?
Governments around the world are grappling with the question of whether artificially intelligent robots and algorithms should be given “human” rights, and if so, what rights.
The global hotspots
Saudi Arabia made headlines in 2017 when it gave citizenship to the world’s most famous robot, Sophia. The irony of giving a fembot more rights than Saudi Arabia’s human female citizens was not lost on social media – or on Sophia herself.
Since getting her citizenship, Sophia has become a spokesperson for women’s rights and has spoken at the United Nations about ending inequality.
Japan took the trend a step further when Tokyo’s Sjibuya neighbourhood granted “official residency” to the neighbourhood’s community chatbot. The community chatbot goes by the name of “Shibuya Mirai” and is designed with the personality and likeness of a small boy.
What’s the Butterfly effect?
Of course, robot rights, just like human rights, come with responsibilities.
The European Union is considering artificial intelligence “personhood” laws. The proposed laws will give artificially intelligent entities legal personhood status, in a similar way that listed companies and trusts have. These laws are less about giving robots “rights” than they are about limiting the responsibilities of the humans that currently control them. In essence, the laws will enable the creators of algorithms, bots, robots and autonomous vehicles – and the companies that own, use and operate the technology – to shift legal responsibilities resulting from use of the technology away from themselves and onto the artificial intelligence itself.
If the law is passed, this will mean that the manufacturer and the owner of a self-driving car involved in a fatal accident will avoid culpability. The car will be solely responsible for the accident and any claims resulting therefrom.
The same would go for employee accidents that occur in smart factories – and even for algorithms used for hiring staff, say, that are found to discriminate against applicants of a particular race or gender. The employer or a manufacturer of the faulty gadgets or systems would avoid responsibility and liability for the errors and their repercussions.
Then there are also questions about the intrinsic rights of artificially intelligent beings .
As artificial intelligence becomes more advanced, will it be ethical to ask a sensitive sentient computer to lie, steal or even kill?
And what about the rights of sexbots? Is it possible to abuse, or even rape a robot?
Trevor McFedrie , one of the founders of Brud.fyi , the creative company responsible for the creation and “management” of top virtual influencers, including Lil Miquela and her nemesis Bermuda, has drafted a Bill of Rights for Artificially Intelligent Global Citizens to protect “robots” and avatars from abuse by humans.
Bill Gates , who is concerned about how robots could harm humans, has suggested that robots should be taxed to compensate society for the human jobs that they displace.
By Bronwyn Williams
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