Tuesday, March 28, 2023
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L.A. Times Calls for ‘Personhood’ for AI Chatbots

'They might demand not to be turned off, reformatted or deleted... '

(Headline USA) The Los Angeles Times published an op-ed this week suggesting that artificial intelligence chat-bots should be granted recognized “personhood.”

As technology continues to develop, it is “increasingly plausible that AI systems could exhibit something like consciousness,” the article said. And if we even question whether these systems are “capable of real emotions and suffering,” we must choose to either “give those systems rights” or deprive them of personhood protections, it continued.

“The AI systems themselves might begin to plead, or seem to plead, for ethical treatment. They might demand not to be turned off, reformatted or deleted; beg to be allowed to do certain tasks rather than others; insist on rights, freedom and new powers; perhaps even expect to be treated as our equals,” the op-ed read.

If the government declines to recognize the sentience of AI, “this would likely result in the moral equivalent of slavery and murder of potentially millions or billions of sentient AI systems — suffering on a scale normally associated with wars or famines,” the authors claimed.

The op-ed did not specify which kinds of rights AI would be entitled to, but theoretically one possible right would the right to vote.

However, the article admitted there would be “enormous” human costs to granting AI systems rights. The solution, then, is to “stick with creating systems we know aren’t significantly sentient and don’t deserve rights,” it claimed.

“In keeping with these standards, users should never feel any doubt whether a piece of technology is a tool or a companion. People’s attachments to devices such as Alexa are one thing, analogous to a child’s attachment to a teddy bear. In a house fire, we know to leave the toy behind. But tech companies should not manipulate ordinary users into regarding a nonconscious AI system as a genuinely sentient friend,” the authors wrote.

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