/Experts Urge Personhood Rights for the “Conscious” AIs of the Future

Experts Urge Personhood Rights for the “Conscious” AIs of the Future

Key idea: We should be prepared to give them “the rights they deserve.”  

Original author and publication date: Noor Al-Sibai (Futurism) – March 6, 2023

Futurizonte Editor’s Note: Who else or what else should have personhood rights? Who else or what else will we recognize as “conscious”?

From the article:   

First corporations, and now artificial intelligence — the push for nonhuman personhood continues apace, though this latest argument is decidedly more complicated than the former.

In an op-ed for the Los Angeles Times, philosophy expert Eric Schwitzgebel and “nonhuman” intelligence researcher Henry Shevlin argued that although AI technology is definitely not there yet, it has “become increasingly plausible that AI systems could exhibit something like consciousness” — and if or when that occurs, the algorithms, too, will need rights.

Citing last year’s AI consciousness wars — which we covered extensively and even dipped our toes into — the researchers noted that “some leading theorists contend that we already have the core technological ingredients for conscious machines.”

If machines were to ever gain consciousness, Schwitzgebel and Shevlin argue we would have to begin thinking critically about how the AIs are treated — or rather, how they may force our hands.

“The AI systems themselves might begin to plead, or seem to plead, for ethical treatment,” the pair predicted. “They might demand not to be turned off, reformatted or deleted; beg to be allowed to do certain tasks rather than others; insist on rights, freedom and new powers; perhaps even expect to be treated as our equals.”

The “enormous” moral risks involved in such a collective decision would undoubtedly carry great weight, especially if AIs become conscious sooner rather than later.

“Suppose we respond conservatively, declining to change law or policy until there’s widespread consensus that AI systems really are meaningfully sentient,” Shevlin and Schwitzgebel wrote. “While this might seem appropriately cautious, it also guarantees that we will be slow to recognize the rights of our AI creations.”

“If AI consciousness arrives sooner than the most conservative theorists expect, then this would likely result in the moral equivalent of slavery and murder of potentially millions or billions of sentient AI systems — suffering on a scale normally associated with wars or famines,” they added.

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