Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Materialism and human rights

Recently an MIT researcher argued robots may gain legal rights:

The arguments for why this could and should be done revolve around anthropomorphism and proper conduct.  Such arguments do not in fact support robots having rights, but are more similar to laws we have now against media that portray, and allow people to engage in certain acts that would be atrocious if real.  In this case, we are not giving rights to fictional characters by outlawing such products.

However, from a materialistic point of view, extending rights to robots does make sense.  Within materialism, humans are essentially very complex robots, and by giving rights to humans we are already giving rights to robots.  There is little difference giving rights to robots produced by evolution and giving rights to robots produced by these robots.

Rights do not stop at robots, though.  A robot is essentially software hooked up to a set of actuators and sensors.  Software can be embedded in many different media, besides silicon and circuitry.  For example, rocks in a desert can be a computer:

Consequently, robotic software can be embedded in this rock computer, turning the desert into a robot, and thus conferring rights to the desert.

In short, pretty much any physical object can end up getting rights within materialism.  So next time your computer locks up and you start beating it with your keyboard, careful or it might take you to court!

The question remains, if materialism is not the answer for giving a robust and coherent account of human rights, what can?  Well, Intelligent Design points us in the right direction: