This story was another one that seemed to have attracted a lot of people's attention this past week: an EU parliament committee - a completely powerless "legislative" body - has voted to give robots "rights", along with a kill switch:
I've blogged previously about the sneaky jurisprudence implied in such efforts, but this one spells it all out plainly; none of my usual high octane speculation is needed:
Foreseeing a rapidly approaching age of autonomous artificial intelligence, a European Parliament committee has voted to legally bestow electronic personhood to robots. The status includes a detailed list of rights, responsibilities, regulations, and a “kill switch.”
The committee voted by 17 votes to two, with two abstentions, to approve a draft report written by Luxembourg MEP Mady Delvaux, who believes “robots, bots, androids and other manifestations of artificial intelligence” will spawn a new industrial revolution. She wants to establish a European Agency to develop rules for how to govern AI behavior. Specifically, Delvaux writes about how increased levels of autonomy in robot entities will make usual manufacturing liability laws insufficient. It will become necessary, the report states, to be able to hold robots and their manufacturers legally responsible for their acts.
The rules will also affect AI developers, who, according to the report, will have to engineer robots in such a way that they can be controlled. This includes a “kill switch,” a mechanism by which rogue robots can be terminated or shut down remotely. (Emphases in the original)
Now, if you're like me, you're seeing or sensing a huge danger here, and it makes me wonder if the water supply in Europe is being doped with anti-sanity and anti-reason drugs, for observe the implicit and explicit logical argument here:
(1) humans are persons;
(2) persons have special rights, and with them come special responsibilities (one shudders to think what "rights" mean to a Eurocrat, but we'll assume the best and move on);
(3) human consciousness and "personhood" can be produced by machines, and artificial intelligence should constitute "electronic personhood" just like corporations are "corporate persons"
(Of course, this is now all getting to be a little fuzzy, and as I've said many times, all this corporate personhood stuff is based in a theological confusion of massive proportions. But, hey, relax, because we're modern trendy predominantly secularized Europeans and we needn't bother with the niceties of mediaeval metaphysics, even if those niceties have issued in a horribly screwed up notion like "corporations are persons" while "unborn babies are not" but robots are For my part, the silliness of corporate personhood resides in the old adage "I'll believe corporations are persons when the State of Texas executes one of them." Heck, forget about murder, I'd settle for manslaughter and a long prison sentence for a few of them, but I digress.
(4) But we need to protect humanity from the possibility that robots might go rogue and do something like found a corporation (a corporate electronic person, presumably) whose corporate charter says that its corporate electronic personhood function is to kill other persons (presumably of either the human biological sort, or the robotic electronic sort). Thus, we need a
(5) "kill switch" to "terminate the program/robot/electronic person".
Well, in today's wonderful transhumanist "cashless" world, why not a "kill switch" in your friendly implant when you start having "unacceptable thoughts" like using cash, or questioning the latest "narrative from Brussels." If it's good enough for "electronic persons" then one be quite certain that some insane Eurocrat, somewhere, will propose the same thing for human persons by parity of reasoning...
...a parity of reasoning that will not, of course, extend to corporations.
See you on the flip side...