Immortals shall soon walk among us. They may also crawl, roll and perhaps hover. Yes, definitely hover.
The immortals refer to artificially intelligent persons (AIPs), and by ‘us’ I mean natural persons. The European Parliament Committee on Legal Affairs recent report recognized that humankind stands on the threshold of an era of sophisticated robots and other manifestations of artificial intelligence (“AI”). The Committee saw the need to legislate this area relatively quickly as self-driving cars are making their appearance.
The fundamental question is what sort of legal status should be granted to AIPs. Natural persons want to avoid any “Battle of the AIPs” future scenarios. Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein, the modern Prometheus, dramatically starts off the Committee’s report. The Committee thought that by addressing people’s real concerns up front, they could deal with the more substantive issues.
The Committee recognizes that people have fantasized about the possibility of building intelligent machines and of achieving potential unbounded prosperity. The Committee does not mention drones with laser canons, but you just know they were all fantasizing about that instead.