Violent Unrest Continues as Androids Demand Civil Rights
Chaos erupted today in the North Center Mall as protesters threw rocks at android service workers.
Read more details about today’s events after the jump!
Imagine you live in a world where headlines and leads like these are your reality.
Last week we talked about the implications of a society in which we had moved past gender. What if we lived in a society where had moved past humanity?
These types of questions rely on what our basic understanding of humanity is in the first place. There are those who believe in a soul, or think humanity is better than other creatures due to our ability to communicate.
Take a look at intelligent creatures like dolphins or crows and you might not feel so special after all.
As it stands now, we barely give rights to those who are different than those in power in the first place. The current power struggle is steeped in equality. Assuming every person is capable of achieving success if given the support they need to do so. Currently, we are focused on being equitable towards everyone.
However, in this dark cyberpunk future we’re all dreaming of there is an implication that androids will be better than humans.
Our brain work in a very similar way to that of a computer. One of silicon-based life-form and one is a carbon-based life-form. It’s all just a bunch of electric currents shooting through synapses telling the program what to do. Computers run off ones and zeros. We like to think that we’re more subjective creatures. Our programmed empathy and feelings make us feel like there’s something bigger than us. Even that is a coping mechanism our brains have synthesized to keep us on our toes.
But what are the practical applications of sentient androids? Riot in the streets for fair wages! Should androids get paid less since they can get more work done. Are they just household items meant to make life better? You pay a sum to get an Alexa. Should the work Alexa do for me be considered human labor?
Well, no, you argue. Alexa is not a human. Moreso, Alexa’s efforts are not tangible and not taxable.
As it stands, we do not have fully functional artificial intelligence. As such there is yet to be a distinction between robot and android.
Have you ever seen a skeleton of a molecule? Like with that application folding@home that shows you the molecule you’re processing in real-time? Every atom vibrates at a certain frequency based on its number of electrons and things bouncing off each other. Seeing as everything is made up of atoms, everything in the universe vibrates.
I’m not going to get all quantum spiritual here, but hear me out.
The patterns by which everything vibrates could be considered like the algorithm for the universe. Everything runs off a set of instructions. Everything has a pattern, endless or finite. Things adhere to a set of rules and behave based upon their programming.
Naturally, we’d like to think we’re special. That somehow the neurons that fire off in our brain our somehow special or different. An android would still be programmed to do certain things and to behave in a certain way. The only difference is that with artificial intelligence is that programming can be amended by the host. Arguably, I’d wager humans cannot do this. I’m not saying humans can’t change at all. But we can’t change the way our brains fundamentally work just by thinking it and adapting to a new line of thinking. Androids can, or probably could.
I think even in a future overrun by androids, I would be surprised if we ever afforded them basic rights. The changes in society to even allow for androids to be legal would probably dehumanize them to a degree.
Would a strip club with android workers have to pay taxes? Would the androids get to keep their tips?
Honestly, the more I think about these potential futures the more parallels I see with basically reintroducing slavery. Among other things, that’s mostly what I’ve gleaned from cyberpunk literature. Is that either being human just implies feelings, and that androids would just be service bots for to aid human efficiency.
To that end, I would hope they would be regulated as any substantial type of property would be. You need a license to drive a car, to own a gun, etc. Rather, I think the better parallel is car insurance. You’d want your property to be treated substantially. I’d like for there to be rules against vandalizing androids, hacking into them, or property theft.
We can’t even agree as to whether or not abortion is murder. If we can’t agree on what humanity is in the first place, I doubt we’ll have very much success integrating artificial intelligence and androids into our society. Most major inventions come ahead of their time, and that’s hardly a good thing. It usually means that the laws and regulations placed around them end up becoming draconian rapidly.
I think the main issue with androids, ultimately, is that we are afraid of ourselves and afraid of what we might do if we had nothing to stop us. We’ve built up narratives that life is worth living, our lives matter, and that consequences matter. Androids would have to have that programmed into them, of course, because the natural state of every sentient creature is just to destroy everyone else.
It’s like, I murder people all I want. Which is zero.
In order to figure out whether androids deserve human rights, we have to figure out if we can even afford ourselves the same luxury without going extinct in the process.