In recent years, movies, books and television shows have increasingly asked us to reconsider how we define humanity as machines and humans become more and more interchangeable. Scientists believe that entirely sentient AI is no more than a few decades away and while the science fiction cyborgs that entirely blur the line between man and machine are still a few years off, more and more people are implanting their body with machine parts. So as we approach these technological triumphs, how will the law handle the issue of human rights? San Diego criminal lawyer Peter M. Liss takes a look at this hotly contested topic.
Obviously cyborgs (humans with machine-enhanced bodies) are much closer to the traditional definition of humans, so it would seem that their cases would be easier to define. Indeed, the US government defines a human as a “member of the species homo sapiens who is born alive at any stage of development.” On its face, this definition should cover most cyborgs since they would almost all be born as homo sapiens at one point or another. In these cases, San Diego defense attorneys and prosecutors would overwhelmingly agree that just because someone had some modification to their bodies doesn’t make them any less human.
But when you consider technological possibilities of combining man and machine, many cases won’t be so cut and dry. For example, what happens if a human body is implanted with a completely synthetic AI brain. Or, what if a completely robotic body is guided by a human brain that was has no memories or knowledge of its life as an organic human body. Our current legislative system has not yet prepared for these possibilities. Ultimately, if a criminal case involving such victims or defendants was brought to trial at this point, it would likely come down to the prosecutor or the San Diego criminal lawyer to show that the cyborg involved was entirely sentient and subject to free will, as well as arguing that parts of the being were of the homo sapiens species and born alive. Whatever side the court agreed with, chances are that something this philosophical would eventually end up before the Supreme Court.
As for androids, for the time being, the answer is a lot more simple. Because they are not homo sapiens and have not been born alive, they would not qualify as human beings and therefore, not subject to human rights. That being said, if there is a time when AI achieves equal consciousness and self-awareness as humans, it is entirely likely that man and machine alike would petition the government to change the law to protect all such creatures -not just those born alive as homo sapiens. While this may seem far fetched to some, consider the fact that only a few hundred years ago many people were denied human rights based on their gender or race. As our society changes, our laws must change as well and one day, purely synthetic life may qualify for rights reserved for homo sapiens at this point in time.
The future can be a scary place and whether it requires defending yourself for killing a zombie or for fighting a cyborg, it always pays to have a San Diego criminal defense attorney with the experience and knowledge necessary to defend you in any given circumstance. If you have any questions about how Peter M. Liss can help you, please call (760) 643-4050 or (858) 486-3024 to schedule a free initial consultation.
Creative Commons Image by Andres Nieto Porras