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Computer as a legal subject

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Martine Rothblatt made a very exciting presentation which you can watch here. She argued that future computers might have its own consciousness and therefore must be granted rights equivalent to those enjoyed by natural persons (e.g. the right to vote, the right to be voted, the right to property, etc).

One of her main argument is that, the more closer something to human, the more rights they get. I agree, plants have no right from not being injured, apes does. It is to be noted however that while it is true that the degree of rights accumulates the more something is closer to human, obligations do not. Obligation is the monopoly of the conscious. There is no gradation with regards to obligations.

Climbing into the ruling class, asking for equalities and emancipating is not an easy task. Sometimes it takes a revolution, magna charta, bill of rights, bastille day, battle of gettysburg. I've been thinking that the process toward granting computer a legal subject may be like releasing nations from collonialisation and tribes from apartheid or at least like granting women the right to vote. Are you ready to elect a computer as your president and supreme court judges?

There are more questions to ask. What are the boundaries between consciouss and non-consciouss computers? What kind of legal pluralism applies in the future society where the two kind of consciousness coexist? Suggesting ourselves as the sole "being" would be a consciousness-chauvinism. It is a good thing that we start talking about this from now. Let's hope that there will be no "Uncle Tom's Cabin" in the future.