The Future of Mankind

A Question of Limits




Copyright Meghan McCracken, Jeff McGee, Marianne Pike and David Wheatley, 2004

Should robots be granted the rights and freedoms granted to other intelligent life?


As we get closer to the development of an autonomous, self-sufficient, intelligent machine, the question arises as to what differentiates humans from machines. Mankind can be characterized by certain personality traits, emotions and experiences formed through time. As humanity becomes more "mechanized" and, conversely, machines become more "humanized", the distinction between humans and machines will begin to blur. Clearly, artificial intelligence is becoming a more ethically troublesome subject.

Artificial Intelligence (AI), the field of research that attempts to emulate human intelligence in a machine, raises ethical concerns that need to be addressed. The issue of whether or not to create artificial intelligence is no longer relevant. AI has been in development for decades and is advancing continuously and exponentially, according to Moore's Law. However, several issues remain regarding the ongoing development of AI and its future use. Should intelligent, human-like robots be built? Should these robots be granted the rights and freedoms granted to other intelligent life? And to what extent do we continue to make advances in artificially intelligent robots? These are all questions that remain unanswered to this point.

The following report will show that the creation and advancement of artificially intelligent robots is an admirable venture and should be explored provided that the benefit and use of such creations is ethically justified, the robots are not given complete autonomous control, and strict regulatory and productive limits are placed upon the developers of such technology. Within these restrictions, AI development can be beneficial to society. However, without these guidelines in place, the reckless expansion of AI could potentially lead to harmful consequences.