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Artificial intelligence

Robots predicted to have rights 50 years from now

Tuesday, December 26, 2006 by: Jerome Douglas
Tags: artificial intelligence, robot ethics, health news


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(NewsTarget) A recent report commissioned by the British government states that one day we may be giving the kind of rights traditionally reserved for humans to sentient machines. The report claims to have looked extensively at current trends into to gauge the situation 50 years from now.

One of 270 forward-looking papers sponsored by Sir David King, the UK government’s chief scientist, specifically looks at the value and rights robots could have in the year 2056. One paper covering robot rights was written by a management consultancy with assistance from an opinion research organization.

"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. Although the rights of robots and the emergence of thinking machines has been the subject of quite few books and movies in recent times, one of the most immersive has been the work of Dr. Isaac Asimov -- who wrote of a society where robots were fully integrated and essential in the everyday lives of people and the planet.

In Asimov's books, there were three laws of robotics that governed machine life. The three rules were: robots could not injure humans, they must obey orders and they protect their own existence -- in that specific order.

Currently, robots and machines are now classified as inanimate objects without rights or duties. But with the emergence recently of artificial intelligence software that continues to increase in complexity -- and they have been known to mimic parts of human consciousness -- the report argues that there may be calls for the rights of human beings to be given to these machines.

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