Saudi Arabia’s Ethics and Robots

Hello! The following article will be on the differentiation between humans and artificial intelligence. I would like to dedicate this article to my dad, who loves Star Trek and Sci-fi, and my philosophy teachers for introducing me to Candle Conferences. Enjoy!

Saudi Arabia has recently been trying to increase the popularity of its artificial intelligence industry. As part of this, they had a robot imported in and decided to give it full citizenship. This has resulted in up cry from the international community as it means now a robot has more rights than woman and people in the LGBT+ group in Saudi Arabia. However, it also brings into question whether we can separate humans and artificial intelligence and whether, as a result of this, we should grant them equal rights.

Last year I went to a Candle Conference where Dr Peter Vardy lectured on a variety of topics, including one on the problem of whether, in the future, we will be able to separate human beings from artificial intelligence (if anyone is debating going to one of these conferences I strongly recommend it and reading any of Peter Vardy’s books. You may not always agree with him (certainly I didn’t) but he certainly makes you challenge your own beliefs critically in a way that has not been done before.). He argued that we have made leaps and bounds in the last century in the development of artificial intelligent, moving rapidly from the first development of a computer to programmed machines, that are slowly resembling human beings. He believed that these artificial intelligences would continue to develop until it got to the stage where it could be possible to develop artificial intelligence that functions exactly as human beings do. In this circumstance, we would not be able to tell the difference between human beings and artificial intelligence.   This issue provides many problems. However, this article is going to focus on the problem of human and artificial intelligence distinction. If we can’t separate humans from robots, then why are we preventing them from gaining equal human rights as us? 
This was the problem Vardy presented to the group in the lecture. When challenged by several members of the audience, particularly on the subject of consciousness, he refuted the ideas. If there is no difference between our thought processes then there would be no way to demonstrate a clear difference. Even if we use Jackson’s idea of qualia, it would be difficult to demonstrate this difference and whether actually robots would have qualia as a bi-product of the brain because it was part of their physical process.
It seemed difficult to challenge Vardy’s position. However, I couldn’t accept Vardy’s conclusion based on the necessity of human emotion. As human beings, we experience human emotions every day whether it is joy, sadness, love or jealousy. These are unavoidable. We can’t separate ourselves from such emotions. Therefore they are an intrinsic part of being human. This contrasts to robots which don’t experience such emotions and aren’t necessary to their function.
Vardy criticised this on the basis that we could perceive a stage in the future where we could add emotions to the artificial intelligence we were creating. He used the example from Star Trek. Data is an artificial intelligence who eventually has a chip inserted to grant him human emotions. Vardy argued that it is only a matter of time before robots also had emotions and this would take us back to the problem of not being able to seperate humans from robots.
Apart from the basis that we conceive doesn’t make mean it is logically possible, I refuted this response due to the condition that human emotions were necessary. In the case of Data, it is clear that the emotion chip can be removed, that Data can continue to function perfectly well without it. However, in the case of human beings, it is impossible to seperate human beings from their emotions. There is no chip that it is possible to remove from human beings to remove emotions. Even people who have parts of their brain damaged still have emotions, even if it changes what emotions are felt. Therefore the necessity of such emotions is what allows us to use such a method to differentiate between us and artificial intelligence.
Therefore, to conclude, we will be able to differentiate between artificial intelligence and human beings due to the necessity of emotions to humans which artificial intelligence don’t have. Therefore, this is what is at the core of what makes us human and presents us with our entitlement towards human rights. As robots do not feel such emotions, they do not have entitlement to such rights. 
I hope you’ve enjoyed the post for this week. If you like what you see, please subscribe! If you have any questions, please comment below or email me. You can also follow me on Twitter at @p_a_absurdum. Next week, the main article will be on “Heathers; the Musical” and how it explores the Eurhyphro Dilemma. The Philosophy Basics for this week will be on how illusions criticise direct realism as a theory of perception.

Published by Philosopher Ad Absurdum

MA Philosophy of Mind and Cognitive Science at the University of Birmingham; First Class BA Philosophy and History from the University of Southampton.

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