Legal Personhood for Artificial Intelligence: Citizenship as the Exception to the Rule

AI and Society 35 (2):343-354 (2020)
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The concept of artificial intelligence is not new nor is the notion that it should be granted legal protections given its influence on human activity. What is new, on a relative scale, is the notion that artificial intelligence can possess citizenship—a concept reserved only for humans, as it presupposes the idea of possessing civil duties and protections. Where there are several decades’ worth of writing on the concept of the legal status of computational artificial artefacts in the USA and elsewhere, it is surprising that law makers internationally have come to a standstill to protect our silicon brainchildren. In this essay, it will be assumed that future artificial entities, such as Sophia the Robot, will be granted citizenship on an international scale. With this assumption, an analysis of rights will be made with respect to the needs of a non-biological intelligence possessing legal and civic duties akin to those possessed by humanity today. This essay does not present a full set of rights for artificial intelligence—instead, it aims to provide international jurisprudence evidence aliunde ab extra de lege lata for any future measures made to protect non-biological intelligence.

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Tyler Jaynes
University of Utah