The Nonhuman Rights Project is working through the mechanism of lawsuits to establish nonhuman animals as persons. A living being with the status of personhood possesses fundamental legal rights to life, liberty and well being. In the United States, the corporation is a ‘nonhuman’ entity that enjoys such rights. In 1886 the U.S. Supreme Court decision known as Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad let stand the assertion that corporations are persons. The corporation was thereby given the very same legal status and rights as real human beings. Animal rights activists reason that if we confer personhood to a nonhuman entity like the corporation then why not grant the same for animals? Today we see the rise of new artificial life entities. Some are embodied as robots and others as non‑corporal Artificial Intelligences in devices, interfaces and games. A long line of research and commentary suggests that we (humans) will have nonhuman, artificial and virtual companions, co‑workers and even lovers. For more than a decade many have called for a bill of rights for cyborgs, avatars and their close cousins. There is a long history of those who have been excluded from personhood and thereby could be exploited, discriminated against or ignored (slaves, women, LGBT). Will the various species of artificial life one day be included in Peter Singer’s expanding circle? Will those entities that pass the Turing Test, persuade and convince us that they too shall the full legal protection under the law as persons? This paper will give a brief overview of the emergence of the notion of the ‘Lockean’ person and its expansion to nonhuman and artificial entities. The paper will conclude with a Declaration of Rights for Artificial Life. Thus begins the Right to Artificial Life as a social movement.
- Greg Garvey, US, is Chair of the Department of Visual and Performing Arts and Director of the Program in Game Design and Development at Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Connecticut, USA. He is a frequent contributor at conferences and symposia such as ISEA and currently serves as a member of the ACM‑SIGGRAPH Digital Arts Committee.
Full text (PDF) p. 269-275