Thrown away an old toaster? Ditched your old iPhone and traded it in for a younger model?
Then you’ve probably been cruel to a machine without even realising it.
The concept of harming a device might seem ridiculous right now, but will become very real as artificial intelligence begins to match and surpass our intellectual abilities.
This idea is already being discussed by ‘Transhumanists’ who want to ensure the ‘sentient entities’ set to emerge in the coming decades are given the same rights as humans.
These techno-utopians believe we must harness technology to conquer death and evolve into a new species free of war, disease and all the other afflictions which have dogged us throughout history.
But to do that, they say humanity needs to ensure we don’t mistreat the machines created to help improve our own lives.
Zoltan Ivstan reads from the Transhuman Bill of Rights (Picture: Discovery Channel)They have already drawn up a ‘Transhuman Bill of Rights’ and hope to persuade the United Nations to adopt it so that robots, computers and other smart machines don’t have to endure the cruelty endured by
Zoltan Istvan, a Transhumanist who believes death will soon become a curable disease thanks to technology, recently visited Cambridge University to discuss this Bill of Rights.
He’s been on a mission around the world, speaking to the World Bank, US Navy and top politicians from a number of countries to spread his message.
Ivstan, who ran for president in 2016, believes that history will harshly judge humans who fail to look after their inventions.
A letter from the US Navy’s secretive and now disbanded CNO Strategic Studies Group addressed to Zoltan Ivstan‘As soon as robots and machine intelligence even near human capacity, we should begin granting them the majority of human rights,’ he told Metro.
‘Otherwise, we may find ourselves in another civil rights struggle that humanity will – again – be ashamed of as time passes.
‘Robots can and will be every bit as special and gifted as humans in the very near future.
‘One day very soon, everyone will have to take the rights of AI, robots with feelings and consciousness, and created advanced cyborg creatures very seriously if we want to remain an ethical society.
‘Introducing the Transhumanist Bill of Rights to politicians and other officials in the last year has been an important mission of mine and some high up government officials have expressed interest in it.’
Zoltan Istvan ran for president in 2016 and is the world’s most famous TranshumanistA Bill of Rights is a document setting out the rights and privileges given to citizens of a country. Here in the UK, the most famous such document is the Magna Carta agreed to by King John in 1215.
In the US, a Bill of Rights was created in 1789 to add to the guarantees in The Constitution, and the UN’s own International Bill of Human Rights came into force in 1976, incorporating the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which was written in the wake of World War II.
The Transhumanist Bill (which you can read here) is designed to give rights to a range of ‘sentient entities’, many of which have not come into being yet.
It encompasses cyborgs, which are beings with both human and mechanical body parts, as well as ‘digital intelligences’ including super-smart computers.
The document is currently in its second form and a third version is currently being drawn up. It will be voted on by members of the United States Transhumanity Party and amended as technology progresses.
A copy of the Magna Carta seen at Salisbury Cathedral in Wiltshire, England (Picture:Stuart Forster/REX/Shutterstock)‘All sentient entities shall be granted equal and total access to any universal rights to life,’ the document states.
The bill aims to give all these entities the right to take total control of their own bodies, allowing them to use technology to boost their lifespan or seek euthanasia to end ‘involuntary suffering’.
It also calls for reproductive freedom, open government, NHS-style healthcare and a universal income given to people whose jobs will ‘inevitably’ be replaced by technology.
Gennady Stolyarov II, chairman of the Party, said: ‘The Transhumanist Bill of Rights, Version 2.0, is an aspirational document describing how a future society which appropriately recognizes the value of all sentient entities will treat those entities so as to ensure that a positive-sum existence can be attainable for all.
‘This document generally does not describe specific ways to attain these rights, because future humans and potentially other intelligent entities will have recourse to a far greater and more creative range of options than we can conceive of today. However, it lays out a vision that can be implemented over time through a variety of approaches.’
The Transhumans claim their project is apolitical, but this is not entirely the case because their ideology clearly incorporates elements of socialism, meaning it is likely to be controversial in America.
Ivstan and his fellow cyborgs have also met with hostility from Christians who believe that the microchips they have installed in themselves are the ‘Mark of the Beast’ foretold as a sign of imminent apocalypse in the Bible.
They are hoping for a revolution which will upend traditional politics and replace it with a sort of utopia free of disease where humans live forever unless they are killed in an accident or through violence.
‘To implement the Bill of Rights successfully, it is important to transcend all conventional political and economic systems,’ Stolyarov added.
‘Thinking only like a Democrat or Republican, Socialist or Libertarian, will simply not enable us to reach that kind of future.
‘Rather, we need to overcome the trench warfare of contemporary politics, adapt the best ideas from all individuals and movements, and synthesize them into approaches that surpass any that have been tried before.’
Which is a nice idea, but one that looks very unlikely considering how cruel humans have been to each other over the centuries – and the savagery with which we still treat animals.
How can we guarantee a good life for robots if we can’t ensure a decent existence for the beings who neturally evolved on this planet?
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