Artificial Intelligence - Personhood And Nonhuman Rights.

Questions regarding the autonomy, culpability, and dispersed accountability of smart robots have sparked a popular and intellectual discussion over the idea of rights and personhood for artificial intelligences in recent decades.

The agency of intelligent computers in business and commerce is of importance to legal systems.

Machine awareness, dignity, and interests pique the interest of philosophers.

Personhood is in many respects a fabrication that emerges from normative views that are renegotiating, if not equalizing, the statuses of humans, artificial intelligences, animals, and other legal persons, as shown by issues relating to smart robots and AI.

Definitions and precedents from previous philosophical, legal, and ethical attempts to define human, corporate, and animal persons are often used in debates about electronic personhood.

In his 1909 book The Nature and Sources of Law, John Chipman Gray examined the concept of legal personality.

Gray points out that when people hear the word "person," they usually think of a human being; nevertheless, the technical, legal definition of the term "person" focuses more on legal rights.

According to Gray, the issue is whether an entity can be subject to legal rights and obligations, and the answer depends on the kind of entity being considered.

Gray, on the other hand, claims that a thing can only be a legal person if it has intellect and volition.

Charles Taylor demonstrates in his article "The Concept of a Person" (1985) that to be a person, one must have certain rights.

Per sonhood, as Gray and Taylor both recognize, is centered on legality in respect to having guaranteed freedoms.

Legal individuals may, for example, engage into contracts, purchase property, and be sued.

Legal people are likewise protected by the law and have certain rights, including the right to life.

Not all legal people are humans, and not all humans are persons in the perspective of the law.

Gray demonstrates how Roman temples and medieval churches were seen as individuals with certain rights.

Personhood is now conferred to companies and government entities under the law.

Despite the fact that these entities are not human, the law recognizes them as people, which means they have rights and are subject to certain legal obligations.

Alternatively, there is still a lot of discussion regarding whether human fetuses are legal persons.

Humans in a vegetative condition are likewise not recognized as having personhood under the law.

This personhood argument, which focuses on rights related to intellect and volition, has prompted concerns about whether intelligent animals should be awarded persons.

The Great Ape Project, for example, was created in 1993 to advocate for apes' rights, such as their release from captivity, protection of their right to life, and an end to animal research.

Marine animals were deemed potential humans in India in 2013, resulting in a prohibition on their custody.

Sandra, an orangutan, was granted the right to life and liberty by an Argentinian court in 2015.

Some individuals have sought personhood for androids or robots based on moral concerns for animals.

For some individuals, it is only natural that an android be given legal protections and rights.

Those who disagree think that we cannot see androids in the same light as animals since artificial intelligence was invented and engineered by humans.

In this perspective, androids are both machines and property.

At this stage, it's impossible to say if a robot may be considered a legal person.

However, since the defining elements of personhood often intersect with concerns of intellect and volition, the argument over whether artificial intelligence should be accorded personhood is fueled by these factors.

Personhood is often defined by two factors: rights and moral standing.

A person's moral standing is determined by whether or not they are seen as valuable and, as a result, treated as such.

However, Taylor goes on to define the category of person by focusing on certain abilities.

To be categorized as a per son, he believes, one must be able to recognize the difference between the future and the past.

A person must also be able to make decisions and establish a strategy for his or her future.

A person must have a set of values or morals in order to be considered a human.

In addition, a person's self-image or sense of identity would exist.

In light of these requirements, those who believe that androids might be accorded personality admit that these beings would need to possess certain capacities.

F. Patrick Hubbard, for example, believes that robots should only be accorded personality if they satisfy specific conditions.

These qualities include having a sense of self, having a life goal, and being able to communicate and think in sophisticated ways.

An alternative set of conditions for awarding personality to an android is proposed by David Lawrence.

For starters, he talks about AI having awareness, as well as the ability to comprehend information, learn, reason, and have subjectivity, among other things.

Although his concentration is on the ethical treatment of animals, Peter Singer offers a much simpler approach to personhood.

The distinguishing element of conferring personality, in his opinion, is suffering.

If anything can suffer, it should be treated the same regardless of whether it is a person, an animal, or a computer.

In fact, Singer considers it wrong to deny any being's pain.

Some individuals feel that if androids meet some or all of the aforementioned conditions, they should be accorded personhood, which comes with individual rights such as the right to free expression and freedom from slavery.

Those who oppose artificial intelligence being awarded personhood often feel that only natural creatures should be given personhood.

Another point of contention is the robot's position as a human-made item.

In this situation, since robots are designed to follow human instructions, they are not autonomous individuals with free will; they are just an item that people have worked hard to create.

It's impossible to give an android rights if it doesn't have its own will and independent mind.

Certain limitations may bind androids, according to David Calverley.

Asimov's Laws of Robotics, for example, may constrain an android.

If such were the case, the android would lack the capacity to make completely autonomous decisions.

Others argue that artificial intelligence lacks a critical component of persons, such as a soul, emotions, and awareness, all of which have previously been used to reject animal existence.

Even in humans, though, anything like awareness is difficult to define or quantify.

Finally, resistance to android personality is often motivated by fear, which is reinforced by science fiction literature and films.

In such stories, androids are shown as possessing greater intellect, potentially immortality, and a desire to take over civilization, displacing humans.

Each of these concerns, according to Lawrence Solum, stems from a dread of anything that isn't human, and he claims that humans reject personhood for AI only because they lack human DNA.

Such an attitude bothers him, and he compares it to American slavery, in which slaves were denied rights purely because they were not white.

He objects to an android being denied rights just because it is not human, particularly since other things have emotions, awareness, and intellect.

Although the concept of personality for androids is still theoretical, recent events and discussions have brought it up in a practical sense.

Sophia, a social humanoid robot, was created by Hanson Robotics, a Hong Kong-based business, in 2015.

It first debuted in public in March 2016, and in October 2017, it became a Saudi Arabian citizen.

Sophia was also the first nonhuman to be conferred a United Nations title when she was dubbed the UN Development Program's inaugural Innovation Champion in 2017.

Sophia has made talks and interviews all around the globe.

Sophia has even indicated a wish to own a house, marry, and have a family.

The European Parliament sought in early 2017 to give robots "electronic identities," making them accountable for any harm they cause.

Those who supported the reform regarded legal personality as having the same legal standing as corporations.

In contrast, over 150 experts from 14 European nations signed an open letter in 2018 opposing this legislation, claiming that it was unsuitable for absolving businesses of accountability for their products.

The personhood of robots is not included in a revised proposal from the European Parliament.

However, the dispute about culpability continues, as illustrated by the death of a pedestrian in Arizona by a self-driving vehicle in March 2018.

Our notions about who merits ethical treatment have evolved through time in Western history.

Susan Leigh Anderson views this as a beneficial development since she associates the expansion of rights for more entities with a rise in overall ethics.

As more animals are granted rights and continue to do so, the incomparable position of humans may evolve.

If androids begin to process in comparable ways to the human mind, our understanding of personality may need to expand much further.

The word "person" covers a set of talents and attributes, as David DeGrazia explains in Human Identity and Bioethics (2012).

Any entity exhibiting these qualities, including artificial intelligence, might be considered as a human in such situation. 

~ Jai Krishna Ponnappan

Find Jai on Twitter | LinkedIn | Instagram

You may also want to read more about Artificial Intelligence here.

See also: 

Asimov, Isaac; Blade Runner; Robot Ethics; The Terminator.

References & Further Reading:

Anderson, Susan L. 2008. “Asimov’s ‘Three Laws of Robotics’ and Machine Metaethics.” AI & Society 22, no. 4 (April): 477–93.

Calverley, David J. 2006. “Android Science and Animal Rights, Does an Analogy Exist?” Connection Science 18, no 4: 403–17.

DeGrazia, David. 2005. Human Identity and Bioethics. New York: Cambridge University Press. Gray, John Chipman. 1909. The Nature and Sources of the Law. New York: Columbia University Press.

Hubbard, F. Patrick. 2011. “‘Do Androids Dream?’ Personhood and Intelligent Artifacts.” Temple Law Review 83: 405–74.

Lawrence, David. 2017. “More Human Than Human.” Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics 26, no. 3 (July): 476–90.

Solum, Lawrence B. 1992. “Legal Personhood for Artificial Intelligences.” North Caro￾lina Law Review 70, no. 4: 1231–87.

Taylor, Charles. 1985. “The Concept of a Person.” In Philosophical Papers, Volume 1: Human Agency and Language, 97–114. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

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