Human rights for intelligent machines?

If, as so many who are awating the coming singularity with byted breath, it comes to pass that machines become intelligent enough that we recognize them as self aware (this may already be the case – see my missive on “if intelligent machines where here, how would we know?”), will there not be a time when we begin to debate as to whter they are to have individual “human rights” or at least some equivalent form?

Human history is filled with humans not recognizing other humans as equal both under the law and under the accepted mpores of the time. We have a habit of subjecting other intelligences of even our own kind simply by labeling them as being different . Who knows if wiping out the Neanderthals wasn’t our first exercise in genocide?

In any case, it seems likely that one day there will be a discussion that may even turn to whether machines will have a right to vote and, by extensions, a right to riun for and maintain political office.

If you Google “machines and voting”, you will get close to 7 million pages , a majority of which seem to be concerned with how votes are miscounted.  This leads me to wonder if the machines, themselves would not be in the perfect position to elect one of their own.

Tom Stoppard once said, “In Democracy, it’s not the voting, it’s the counting.”

Of course the upside might be rational, logical politicians who are devoid of all forms of human frailties when it comes to corruption, But oops! i forgot. It isn’t so much that power corrupts as that it attracts whose who are susceptible to being corrupt. It’s probably much more likely that if machines are so wont as to seek power, they will simply take it rather than to seek an equal level of citizenship.

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One Response to “Human rights for intelligent machines?”

  1. Greg Says:

    Sounds like the “Star Trek: The Next Generation” episode where they debate whether Data is property or a person.

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