[ExI] possible application areas for the technology

sam micheal micheals at msu.edu
Mon Jan 19 19:39:02 UTC 2009

after discussing the device with family and friends on SARA (amateur 
radio astronomers), i have come up with a tentative list of applications 
for the device:

*NOT* solder (i think the thing will be too rebellious for them anyways)
robot explorer for distant planets including Mars
space-telescopes - control system ('stripped down' version)
babysitter (dangerous but after we do FULL pre-market testing)
companion for the elderly (same as above)
research assistant (my idea - but only if it agrees ;)

of course, the prototype would have to be trained on "what is a 
bathroom" or "how to make lunch" .. but those are engineering concerns 
.. no insight/intuition/inspiration is required for "what is a bathroom" 
or "how to make lunch".

the user would define what kind of lunch they prefer and train the robot 
how to make it.

which brings me to the focus of the real "crux of the matter": robot rights.

we must not only define what we mean by self-awareness, we must define 
consciousness, and most importantly - *the rights associated with those 
definitions*. (what entities deserve rights and what do not.)

i know this as i know myself - it is not a question of *IF* we make 
aware robots, it is a question of *WHEN*. we are on the verge. i can 
sense it. so the real question becomes: will we be prepared legally?

i think it's vitally important (for our civilization) that we decide 
robot rights before they are fully developed. and we can use a fairly 
simple definition of self-awareness: if a robot speaks (or otherwise 
output) in such a way that is *indistinguishable from human*, we must 
assign human rights *regardless if we know or not know* the thing has 
human-like consciousness. if it behaves human, we must treat it as human 
until proven otherwise.

some might question: "what's the point?" (if i design a race of slaves 
then say they must be given freedom.) *it is the responsible thing to 
do.* we cannot say to a child: "play with that nuclear weapon - it is 
only a toy" or "play with your DNA" because that is irresponsible. by 
the same token, we cannot design or make self-aware machines without 
first considering their god-given rights - yes i use the word god. and 
yes i believe they have god-given rights like us. just because they are 
"artificial life" does not make them any less "in god's image". it may 
sound nutty. but profundity typically does.

you can debate the possibility until you are "blue in the face" .. then 
you will read in the headlines: Conscious Machine Developed at 
Company/University X and you will not believe it.. then all the legal 
squabble will happen .. but why? why must we wait until then? *it's 
ridiculous and irresponsible.*

if we don't do it now - i guarantee this thing will "bite us in the 
ass". it is inevitable. establish robot rights now.

sam micheal
ps - i envision a courtroom scenario like this: a robot is on the stand 
- accused of being "just a robot" (with no human rights) .. they debate 
"what is human" .. the robot insists that it be treated as human 
regardless of how it looks different or how its mind is different from a 
human mind. finally, the prosecuting attorney declares "Do you 
understand that if we treat you as human, you must abide by the laws of 
Country X. If you break those laws, you will be punished including 
monetary fines and time in prison. Do you understand our laws, what 
'monetary fine', and 'time in prison' mean? Do you swear by God?" and it 
is up to your imagination - and future history to decide its response.

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