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Robot rights without human frights

When: Friday, December 15, 2023, 2:00 PM - 3:30 PM
Where: Online or Room 313, Third Floor, School of Law, Queen Mary University of London, Mile End Road, London E1 4NS

Lunch will be served from 1.30 PM in the same venue.

The idea that artificial intelligences (AIs) may one day possess interests that deserve rights protection is increasingly finding an echo in scholarship. However, bogeyman stories aside, little attention has been devoted to how extensions of rights to AIs might affect the basic equality and rights of human beings. This paper focuses on intelligent robots to argue that granting rights to them based on their individual capacities and interests runs the risk of undermining the basic equality and rights of human beings, especially vulnerable human beings. To avoid this problem, I draw on my research on animal rights to argue that, in law, rights should be extended to robots on the basis of a group to which they belong, not their individual capacities or interests. The group I propose we should focus on is that of ‘quasi-species’, that is, groups of beings who lack a biological species, but who resemble each other more than they resemble members of other groups and cannot be further subdivided.

Respondent: Joshua Gellers, University of North Florida

Raffael Fasel

Dr Raffael Fasel is Yates Glazebrook Fellow and Director of Studies in Law at Jesus College and Affiliated Lecturer at the Cambridge Law Faculty. He specialises in public law, with a particular interest in constitutional theory, human rights law, and animal rights law. Raffael was previously Fellow in Law at the London School of Economics and he has held visiting scholar positions at Yale Law School, Harvard Law School, the University of Oxford, and NYU Law School. He is the author of More Equal Than Others: Humans and the Rights of Other Animals (Oxford 2024), Animals and the Constitution (Oxford 2024), and Animal Rights Law (Hart 2023).

Joshua Gellers

Josh Gellers, PhD, is professor and director of the MA in International Affairs Program in the Department of Political Science and Public Administration at the University of North Florida. He is also a research fellow of the Earth System Governance Project, expert with the Global AI Ethics Institute, and member of the IEEE working group on design-centered human-robot interaction and governance. Josh's research focuses on environmental governance, rights, and technology. He has published over two dozen articles or chapters, edited a special issue of Earth System Governance on AI and Digitalization, and written two books, The Global Emergence of Constitutional Environmental Rights (Routledge 2017) and Rights for Robots: Artificial Intelligence, Animal and Environmental Law (Routledge 2020).

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