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Robots Will Always Be Machines, Not Persons

Wesley J. Smith

The mechanical “woman” above — through her human-written program — speaks of one day having a family and being a person. Indeed, many in transhumanism and bioethics one day hope to establish robot rights or machine rights.

Never. No matter how sophisticated a computer is, it will always just be a machine — dependent on its programming, whether or not self-written.

And no robot could ever truly “create” art. Art is a distinctly human and subjective enterprise, not based on wired-in programming.

By the way, I have been called a “bigot” for asserting that only humans — not machines, animals, nature, or plants — should have enforceable rights. That’s faulty reasoning. There is a proper hierarchy of moral worth, and humans are at the apex.

Even enemies of human exceptionalism understand this, which is why they are always looking for analogous capacities among lesser entities — whether animals or AI computers/robots — as a means to bootstrap them into a position of moral equality with us.

It’s not going to work. Only we have moral and legally enforceable duties. No machine, animal, plant, or river can ever be morally accountable for anything. Only we are true bearers of rights.

Cross-posted at The Corner.

Wesley J. Smith

Chair and Senior Fellow, Center on Human Exceptionalism
Wesley J. Smith is Chair and Senior Fellow at the Discovery Institute’s Center on Human Exceptionalism. Wesley is a contributor to National Review and is the author of 14 books, in recent years focusing on human dignity, liberty, and equality. Wesley has been recognized as one of America’s premier public intellectuals on bioethics by National Journal and has been honored by the Human Life Foundation as a “Great Defender of Life” for his work against suicide and euthanasia. Wesley’s most recent book is Culture of Death: The Age of “Do Harm” Medicine, a warning about the dangers to patients of the modern bioethics movement.

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