The Instigator
SecularMerlin
Con (against)
Tied
0 Points
The Contender
Lirille
Pro (for)
Tied
0 Points

Do we have a moral obligation to recognize a sentient AI as deserving of basic human rights

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 11/27/2017 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 7 months ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 281 times Debate No: 105335
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (2)
Votes (0)

 

SecularMerlin

Con

I shall be taking the con position for two reasons
1. I think it's the more challenging position
2. You defended life so eloquently that I can't wait to hear you defend a circuit board.
Lirille

Pro

Sorry, no empathy for circuit boards, haha. But I can (maybe) try to argue that from a logical perspective.

So let's work on our definitions first. Let us reflect for a moment on why do we have "rights" at all. Rights were created to protect someone's interests. To accord "rights", we must first have a "someone" (a self-aware entity) and that someone must have "interests", such as an interest in continuing to exist, or an interest in not feeling pain.

Now what is AI? AI is an "intelligence" that was man-made. If we ever manage to make intelligent, self-aware robots, i.e. sentient robots (unlikely at this point, I think, but let's use our imagination for a moment), we might assume that, at some point, such entities may come to have interests to protect.

Now, one might argue we would not be obligated to give such entities rights because, in spite of being sentient and having interests, they have one fundamental difference from the other sentient beings we currently know (humans and non-human animals) - robots are man-made, they don't exist independently from man.

So let us take this up a notch and imagine those intelligent, sentient robots are also self-replicating. Now we have "child" robots being created independently, without any sort of human interference at all. Now, how do you justify not giving such independent, sentient beings rights? What would make then morally different from your average human?
Debate Round No. 1
SecularMerlin

Con

Oh that's good. That is rich. Robot children you say and yet they spring forth, so to speak, as fully grown fully functional and presumably fully programmed. They wouldn't be "baby" robots except by the most loose interpretation of the word. Also if I may quibble if we set this process in motion than are we still, to quote the bard, their parents and original? That is to say that when we breed a dog or a horse who do the offspring belong to? That's right the breeder. You also mentioned pain and while you didn't expressly say that the robots in your argument are capable of feeling physical pain I would remind you that contemporary robots do not and so would have to be designed to. Designing robots to feel pain... now that would be cruel.
Lirille

Pro

But that's exactly the point. From a moral perspective, I don't think we can justify owning animals, either. Especially animals that everyone knows for a fact are self-aware and have interests, like dogs, cows and pigs.

So, so that we're clear, what are, for you, the very basic requirements for an individual to be entitled rights? Because if being a member of the human species is a basic requirement for you, there's no point in arguing here, I guess... =)

But back to the robots, since you were not impressed with my "child" bots (how dare you!), let me propose a different scenario.... What if it were a self-aware
alien robot that just dropped on Earth? No "makers" in sight. Should we grant that robot rights, then?
Debate Round No. 2
SecularMerlin

Con

I own a dog she seems happy enough with the arrangement but that is besides the point.
So back to the bots what if an alien robots should be dropped from the sky? I have a number of questions about this supposed robot. How do we make sure it is a robot? How do we make sure it is self aware? Does self awareness also imply emotion, empathy and a sense of moral right and wrong?
Now let's say it has all these things, is it even still a robot?
The question of whether it is a man or a toaster aside if we were in competition for resources we might cause self harm by trying to afford it rights. And on that note I give you the last word
Lirille

Pro

How do we make sure it is a robot? How do we make sure it is self aware?
Well, those were your premises, sentient AI. I'm not concerned with trying to prove the premises are valid here, only with what we should do once we ascertain they are.

Does self awareness also imply emotion, empathy and a sense of moral right and wrong?
No... But are those really required to grant someone rights? I'd argue not. Human psychopaths have no empathy, a very limited range of emotions and only care about right and wrong in a pragmatic sense. Humans with severe cognitive impairment have no sense of moral right and wrong. Those groups still have rights.

Now let's say it has all these things, is it even still a robot?
I'd say that's a philosophical question, not a practical one. ;-) And from a practical perspective on the subject of granting rights... does it really matter what it is? I'd argue not.

The question of whether it is a man or a toaster aside if we were in competition for resources we might cause self harm by trying to afford it rights.
I have to agree with that. If there's indeed a competition for resources, and if one argues human species survival should trump justice and fairness, then we should not afford it rights. It doesn't make it morally right, though.
Debate Round No. 3
2 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Posted by SecularMerlin 7 months ago
SecularMerlin
I am completely convinced by my opponents humane and moral arguments. I enjoyed the debate very much and would urge that everyone vote pro.
Posted by SecularMerlin 7 months ago
SecularMerlin
However this turns out your compassion and intelligence do you credit
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