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12/22/2006
04:59 PM
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Report: Robots Will Get Same Rights As Humans

As robots continue to become more sophisticated, they'll also get the same responsibilities, too, like paying taxes and military service.

A report out of the U.K. contends that in about 50 years, robots will be given the same rights as humans and even will be expected to vote and pay taxes.

The report was a team effort of analysts at Outsights, a U.K.-based management consultancy, and Ipsos Mori, a U.K.-based opinion research organization. The study was sponsored by the British government.

What will push governments to give rights to inanimate objects or what are now considered to be pieces of property?

The achievement of artificial intelligence will be critical, according to the report. "If artificial intelligence is achieved and widely deployed (or if they can reproduce and improve themselves), calls may be made for human rights to be extended to robots," the report notes. "If so, this may be balanced with citizen responsibilities, like voting and paying taxes."

The report argues that there will be a "monumental shift" in coming years when robots get to the point where they can reproduce, improve themselves or gain artificial intelligence. The granting of human-like rights would then call for robots to be given human-like responsibilities, as well. The report says they might even have compulsory military service.

"Humankind could engage in spirited debates as to how humans, animals and robots rank with respect to rights and responsibilities in our world," the report states. "Robots with advanced artificial intelligence could promote the development of schools of thought that see the human brain as nothing more than a special type of computer."

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