No Rights For Robots

Stick a Neopet program in a toaster and the Brits will want make it one of the Queen’s subjects:

“Far from being extracts from the extreme end of science fiction, the idea that we may one day give sentient machines the kind of rights traditionally reserved for humans is raised in a British government-commissioned report which claims to be an extensive look into the future.

Visions of the status of robots around 2056 have emerged from one of 270 forward-looking papers sponsored by Sir David King, the UK government’s chief scientist. The paper covering robots’ rights was written by a UK partnership of Outsights, the management consultancy, and Ipsos Mori, the opinion research organisation.

“If we make conscious robots they would want to have rights and they probably should,” said Henrik Christensen, director of the Centre of Robotics and Intelligent Machines at the Georgia Institute of Technology.”

…“If granted full rights, states will be obligated to provide full social benefits to them including income support, housing and possibly robo-healthcare to fix the machines over time,” it says.

Let me be the first to say that I don’t care what kind of ideas they came up with in Sci-Fi novels, machines should never have “rights.” Now, I know what some of you Star Trek geeks are thinking, “But, John, what if they’re intelligent, have emotions, and a personalty like Data from Star Trek or the machines from AI?” Machines can’t really have any of those things because they’re nothing but machines. They’re not born, they have no souls, and if they seem to possess human traits, it’s only because that’s how they’ve been programmed. “Sentient machines?” “Conscious robots?” There is no such thing. There’s only programming that allows machines to mimic sentience and consciousness. Nothing more, nothing less.

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