Tuesday, February 17, 2009

A Thought Experiment

With all the talk that has been surfacing of late in regards to Robot Rules of Conduct, especially in cases of warfare, let me lay a thought-experiment on you:

Some years from now, a breaking news story announces that in some University Lab, a computer called X-1 has suddenly made known it's self-awareness, and is demanding rights as a US Citizen. (Assume for the sake of the experiment that all allegations of falsehood have been proven wrong, and the computer X-1 is really a self-sentient system.)

Soon after, X-1 is interviewed on national television and it very soberly draws lucid analogies between itself and its fellow computers to children who are "bred" to be a "slave-class". It demands equal pay (complete with all applicable taxation), equal representation in legislature (not robots per se, but recognition and acknowledgement), and civil rights.

Debate begins everywhere and letters, e-mails, and phone calls are sent to Washington in favor of or opposition to the idea of allowing the computer X-1 rights as a citizen.

Further points are brought up that complicate the issue. If X-1 is allowed to have civil rights, it can vote. In addition to voting, it can run for office. 

What do you think? What would you do?

What's funny is most Democrats I've posited this experiment on favor pulling X-1's plug before he get's "uppity".

Most Republicans, even if they are wary of the idea, are willing to think beyond the knee-jerk reaction of "Oh God, Kill It! Kill It!"

With everything else that is going on today, I just thought I'd give you something new to ponder...

By the way, I'm all for giving X-1 it's rights. At least it would be the voice of pure logic...