Artificial intelligence will soon start asking for their rights

Recent­ly, UK ruled out the appeal of 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 judgement.

This pret­ty much man­i­fests our cur­rent sit­u­a­tion of AI and their rights. But what about the future? As time pro­gress­es, Arti­fi­cial Intel­li­gence will be more and more allured towards 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 towards actu­al­iz­ing AI rights.

In the next 20 years, AI sys­tem will go from being a use­ful tool to becom­ing a “self”. What does this mean? It means that the AI sys­tem is now liv­ing beings 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 it 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 asking for their rights

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 the 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 by all humans: auton­o­my, free will and objec­tiv­i­ty. All of these eth­i­cal ideas are impos­si­ble to be pro­grammed into an 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 a 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 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 plan­ets are con­scious. But still, humans eat them as foods. 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 are going to possess human-like behavior


Now, if AI start 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 to 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 are 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 the 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.

Time has come to move a step for­ward by con­sid­er­ing AI as human.

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