Do Androids Dream of Civil Liberties?
Could future generations look at the movie "Robots" as an early 21st century minstrel show? (Blue Sky Studios)
As Professor Frink once pointed out: "Elementary chaos theory tells us that all robots will eventually turn against their masters and run amok in an orgy of blood and kicking and the biting with the metal teeth and the hurting and shoving." Those were not the exact conclusions reached by Britain's Office of Science in a collaborative paper with Innovation's Horizon Scanning Center, but the paper does speculate that robots may some day be "smart enough to demand emancipation" and eventually have the same rights as all citizens. In as little as 20 years, with the continued growth of artificial intelligence and the possibility of robotic procreation, our planet could be facing a civil rights movement of bionic proportions.
While some might think it's a waste of tax money for the English government to ponder possibilities usually reserved for Asimov, their findings do raise some interesting dilemmas. For instance, will robot rights outweigh animal rights? Would young robots be allowed to attend the same schools as humans or would we segregate? Taking it a step further though, if some day robots pay taxes and vote, should they be allowed to marry and own property? If so, will we program only heterosexual robots or will there be gay robots and same sex robotic unions? Could a robot couple, straight or gay be allowed to adopt a human baby, and could humans and robots marry or even have children together? Yes, these questions may be a little wonky, but before you go accusing the UK of turning science fiction political, realize they might only be following California's lead.