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Will Humanoid Robots Have Human Rights In The Future?


Paul Vadas, M.A. in Political Science (California State University Northridge), Chief Executive Consultant – Vadas Educational Consulting.

The other day someone asked me what I thought about the possibility that, some day, humanoid-robots would have the same rights as humans, given all the advances in technology.

At first I thought it was a rhetorical question since, by definition, humanoids are not humans, even though they resemble humans more and more. But then, thinking a little more, I remembered the 1999 movie “The Bicentennial Man”, starring Robin William, which “follows the life and times of the title character, an android, who is purchased as a household robot programmed to perform menial tasks. The Martin family quickly learns that they don’t have an ordinary robot as Andrew begins to experience emotions and creative thought.” (www.rottentomatoes.com/m/bicentennial man).

That which 18 years ago seemed like science fiction, is turning out to be a real possibility, given the amazing evolution of our knowledge in genetics, and the advances in the neurosciences.

The more I thought about the question the more I started to think about the opposite possibility: humans becoming more like robots. If you think this is far fetched, you should go back to watching the old tv shows “The Six Million Dollar Man” and/or “The Bionic Woman”. That which was science fiction a mere 30 years ago, when limb replacement was still in the drawing boards, has become science fact. Not only is technology capable of replacing limbs but also hearts, livers, lungs and even faces.

If we really think about it, with not only robots becoming more like humans but, also, humans becoming more like robots, it is not at all impossible that, one day, we will not be able to tell them apart. When that day comes, robots will most likely be granted the same human rights as humans. The question is: will robotized humans be as advanced as humanized robots?