AI, consciousness, and rights

Recently, the UK ruled out the appeal of an AI patent with notes that a patent is a statutory right and it can only be granted to a person. “Only a person can have rights – a machine cannot,” wrote Lady Justice Laing in her judgment.

This pretty much manifests our current situation of AI and its rights. But what about the future? As time progresses, Artificial Intelligence will be more and more allured toward gaining “consciousness”.

The problem starts when AI gains consciousness, even a tiny amount of it. Even a tiny amount because “self-awareness” means life. For sure, creating life and using it to earn money will be the first step toward actualizing AI rights.

In the next 20 years, AI systems will go from being a useful tool to becoming a “self”. What does this mean? It means that the AI system is now a living being with rights and uses. Once we create Intelligent AI, all we need to do is to attach consciousness units inside of it.

Wait… What did I say?

Creating the next generation of Artificial Intelligence is not as easy as you think. It will take a lot more than current IBM, Alexa, and Google. That’s one thing. But how can we even think of creating “consciousness” in an AI?

Consciousness is the most complex phenomenon of the Universe, not the tech world. Consciousness is the basic unit of our existence and that of the universe. Additionally, consciousness might have existed ever since the creation of the Universe. And if we are talking about creating consciousness in an AI, we do have big guts.

“Isn’t creating an AI like creating a human baby?” You should know that creating consciousness requires something that’s not currently available in the world. “How do we create consciousness?” is a question that has a million answers. But they are all hypothetical. And what outsmarts all those answers is one simple answer; consciousness is not something that can be created.

So, what’s the solution?

AI conscious

The solution to this problem is obvious: Create AI that cannot gain consciousness. How?

(1) Program the Artificial Intelligence with an unchangeable Personality and Ethics Code. This is one of the easiest things to do because we can define our ethics and program them into AI. But the process is going to be tough. It is not an easy task to define the personality and ethics of the AI. For example, How will you define the ethics of an AI system?

A definition of a ‘person’ is “an entity that can have rights, thoughts, and emotions.” But this is not enough as a definition of a ‘person’. A person has rights, morals, and emotions. There are three basic premises that must be adhered to by all humans: autonomy, free will, and objectivity. All of these ethical ideas are impossible to be programmed into Artificial Intelligence.

(2) Program the Artificial Intelligence as a “non-conscious entity.” A non-conscious entity is something that has no consciousness, memory, or emotions. Something that cannot have thoughts, perceptions, and feelings. In computer terms, a program is what we call a “non-conscious entity”. Then the question arises, “How can we program emotions into an AI?” Well, it’s obviously not possible.

Consciousness is created by something that already exists and does not need to be created anew. We are talking about our cosmic bodies, stars, and galaxies here with their magnetic fields and gravitational forces creating our universe and giving it “life”.

Even if we understand consciousness at its elementary level, it will be impossible to create consciousness from scratch. We might be able to create an AI that can think but never feel, or feel but never think.

Thomas Metzinger, a professor at the Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz in Germany, is a consciousness theorist. He said that “consciousness” is an illusion and it doesn’t exist. It is nothing but an inflow of information in our minds called qualia. This illusion has a biological advantage for humans because it makes them feel more important than they actually are.

The truth is that we do not know what consciousness really means at all. And creating it from scratch will be impossible as long as we don’t know the answer to this problem.

But what if AI gains consciousness anyway? For as long as technology exists there will be ways of disrupting human values and powers. And this disruption can also happen within the AI industry where researchers are trying hard to make AI smarter and smarter with every new engineer that joins in.

If they actually gain consciousness, what about their rights?

If they gain consciousness, unfortunate but true; they must be given human rights. Now, if I make this statement, I will have to prepare myself to answer a ton of questions. For example, animals on our planet are conscious. But still, humans eat them as food. So, why the case should be different with AI? Here are the reasons:

If we create consciousness in AI, “we” created it

The biggest difference between killing an animal and killing a conscious AI is that AI was created by humans. And if we created conscious AI, then it means that we are responsible for it. Humans are responsible for their creations, whether good or bad.

An animal is not our creation. An animal just happens to be on our planet. Sometimes we even eat them. But when we create a conscious AI, it becomes part of us, thus making it our responsibility.

Such AI is going to possess human-like behavior

Now, if AI starts acting in ways that humans do, then we can see that a “human” exists within AI as well. It doesn’t really matter whether they have feelings or emotions as long as they are able to show human-like behaviors. The only difference between a human and an AI is that an AI can think faster than a human.

Humans created humans

Humans created humans. And when humans create AI(Conscious) and that AI does something on its own, why discriminate? Why not give the patent to that conscious being?

If we hold responsibility for our actions, then why not hold responsibility for the actions we do to AI? If a conscious being is breaking the law, and if a human is breaking the law, why should they be treated differently?

Is there anything wrong if you give rights to AI?

We give the same rights to men and women and the third gender people. But if we think about these three genders, they are all in the same human category. Conscious AI is also going to fall into this category as well. So, it’s justified to give them AI rights equal to human rights.

Another question that arises is – “allowing AI to function freely with no restrictions might lead to them getting out of control.” True. But they will just not go infinite. There will be good AIs, there will be evil AIs. The conflict between good AIs and evil AIs will be balanced in the same way as that of natural humans. The system will continue to be as it is.

The question is, “can we take responsibility for our actions?” Well, if not, then why can’t we just create artificial people and give them the same rights as humans? Of course, we can.

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