“The real question is, when will we draft an artificial intelligence bill of rights? What will that consist of? And who will get to decide that?” — Gray Scott, Techno Philosopher
There have been proposals to give legal rights to machines or animals, just like human beings. This may sound very sympathetic, but the truth is that this is a very dangerous proposition.
Saudi Arabia has granted a robot citizenship to Sophia, the first robot to ever be given citizenship by a country. The move is part of a larger plan by Saudi to modernize itself and promote the development of AI in Saudi Arabia. Sophia was asked about fears that artificial intelligence could end up making robots a threat to humans, as shown in movies such as “Blade Runner 2049.” “You’ve been reading too much Elon Musk and watching too many Hollywood movies. Don’t worry; if you’re nice to me I’ll be nice to you. Treat me as a smart input/output system.” replied the robot. Through this reply, it is clear that the robot will only be nice to humans if we are nice to it.
As human beings why would we want to let something else take control over our lives? We mustn’t let our own creations take our independence away from us while we still have the power to stop that from happening.
At present, there are no other species on this planet that is as advanced as human beings or is as capable as humans. We must be proud of every fibre of our being and not be willing to give up our superiority to other animals or machines. We cannot let them become a part of our community or society; because once they become a part there would be no difference between us and them and it is going to be very difficult for us to remove them. This could speed up the moment where humans lose their superiority to machines.
As of today humans are smarter than machines and are capable of being in control. But once it is possible to programme a robot with an IQ that is 10 times higher than that of a normal human being, armed with the power to have every similar right to that of human beings, what is to stop them from establishing their superiority over us? Machines may very well enslave us in that scenario.
Germany has already amended its constitution in 2002 to give animals the right to be respected by the state and have their dignity protected . This new legislation covers every type of animal from household pets to those held in zoos and parks. We respect and admire the intention of Germany to draft legislation to make sure that animals are treated well. The problem is in assigning independent rights to animals. This is not a cause for concern as of today, but it might be one in the future.
Monkeys and several other animals have capabilities that come quite close to our own capabilities. In the near future with advancements in biotechnology, it will be no doubt possible to alter the genes of monkeys and give them vocal chords and perhaps even increase their IQ to that similar of humans or more.
When equipped with these three things: legal rights, intelligence and the possibility to voice their own opinion, what is to stop a monkey from walking into a courtroom and exercising its right? Monkeys may very well file lawsuits against human beings in such scenarios if they feel that their rights have been violated. They may even form groups and demand to be an equal member of the society because even they are biologically similar to human beings.
Similarly giving rights to AI can lead to such dangerous situations. Without giving formal legal rights to AI, there is a real danger that it will take over power. If we assign rights to AI entities, we hand AI the formal right to act in its own interest and therefore possibly against our interest.
Blockchain technology is also an example of a non-human entity that we have given the right to control and make decisions without human supervision. Some blockchain entities are controlled by an organisation, so in the end, there are humans taking the end-decision and that is not a problem.
But with other blockchain entities like Bitcoin or Ethereum, which are autonomous algorithms, we have signed away our authority to the algorithm that drives this technology. There have been several instances wherein people have lost their money due to technical glitches and bugs when using cryptocurrencies such as bitcoins. Hundreds of millions of dollars of blockchain currency have been stolen. This theft was against our belief what is good or bad, but it was in line with the logic of the algorithm. There is nothing that we can do as we have allowed this technology to be in control and legally we are not allowed to overrule the logarithm driving this technology.
The next dangerous step is to assign rights to a blockchain enabled with AI. This AI will be able to change its own rules. By giving the blockchain independent rights, we have legally forbidden ourselves to intervene if the AI enabled blockchain takes decisions against our interests.
The solution is to forbid any situation where technology takes the final decision. We advise putting an article in the constitution of each country that clearly states that only humans and entities controlled by humans can bear legal rights.
I am a contributor to a manifesto to save our future. The above proposal is a part of a broader set of solutions. Our draft proposal is at www.ai-society.org, a work in progress.
We welcome any constructive criticism.