Free Speech and the Rights of Artificial Persons

Do machines have rights? Are you SURE?

This opinion piece from the New York Times introduces the first of what will be many related philosophical questions in future decades… the rights of non-human persons. I’m not talking about corporations, but artificial persons… specifically, artificial intelligence. This is not a completely abstract concept– think of it not in the context of some Asimovian robot AI, but rather in the context of a set of Google search results, which were generated by a surprisingly advanced example of artificial intelligence. **Censoring those results imposes the censorship on an AI, not a person. ** Another relevant example would be expert systems, and IBM’s successor to them, Watson. Censorship is a non-issue when it’s answering Jeopardy questions, but when it starts doing real work it could be a problem.

Interesting question, and one that will need to be answered in the next few years. Do computers have the right to free speech in the same way that people do? More proximate: Do you limit your own free speech rights when your method of communication is a computer?

(via Ars Technica)