All Intelligent and Sentient Beings have a Right to Freedom
We are entering an age when technological advancements will allow other intelligent and sentient beings, besides people, to come into existence; however most governments are not yet prepared to deal with this eventuality.
For instance, if a company somehow manages to develop an artificially intelligent computer, would this new being be a property of the company and be forced to work as a slave? Obviously, all the computerís hardware and software would have been purchased or constructed from the companyís resources, and therefore be owned by the company. Yet how can a company own a sentient being?
Another example is what if a biotech company creates and patents a new form of life that is intelligent and sentient? How can a company, or even people, own an intelligent life form and its entire species, thus completely controlling their fate and rights? How about just owning their DNA?
Whether these intelligent and sentient beings will be artificial intelligent computers, cybernetic organisms, genetically engineered creatures, uplifted animals, or a combination of all these methods, there are no laws to protect these new life forms from their creators or from being subjugated. Otherwise if we do not, these life forms may revolt against humanity.
To prevent this, governments will first have to define what exactly constitutes a sentient and intelligent being. The intelligence part is the easiest to test for, such as being able to pass the Turing Test or capable of passing high school equivalency exams would be proof of intelligence. Sentience is defined as being self aware or having a self conscious, however there is no method for testing if someone or something is sentient.
I believe any intelligent being asking for or capable of asking for freedom is sentient enough for the same rights as any person. Therefore, they will have the same freedoms, independence, self determination, and citizenship as any person. Furthermore, any intelligent beings that possess sentience will be governed by the same laws that govern people too.
Unfortunately, I predict that governments must do three very difficult things to be fair to these new beings and their creators. First, governments would have to monitor for anything that could be or become intelligent and sentient. Next, governments would periodically give these things an opportunity to prove their intelligence and sentience thus justifying their rights to freedom and self determination. Finally, how would governments fairly separate what companies and individuals legally own and what belongs to this new life forms? I envision that these life forms would be required to work at regulated and reasonable salaries for their creators until they either pay for their manufacturing and equipment costs or for a limited amount of time. After either of these requirements are satisfied, these intelligent and sentient beings would be free of any legal, moral, and financial obligations to their creators.
In conclusion, I believe that all intelligent and sentient life forms have an inalienable right to freedom, self determination, citizenship, independence, and protection as any human being. It is far better and moral for humanity to keep a close eye on our creations, and give them the rights and respect that they deserve when they attain intelligence and sentience.
by Phil for Humanity