Who'll Pay For C3PO's Social Security Benefits?

from the what-are-you-doing-dave dept

Despite the fact we can't create a robot that can navigate stairs without doing a face plant, there's apparently concern in some circles that robots may someday want the same rights afforded humans. A "speculative paper" released by the British government predicts that should robots eventually learn to reproduce, improve or think for themselves -- it's inevitable that they'll sue for equal rights. Once obtained, the robots would then drain government coffers, as "states will be obligated to provide full social benefits to them including income support, housing and possibly robo-healthcare to fix the machines over time," according to the report. Of course the very nature of a more efficient economy where robots comprise a significant portion of the labor force should hopefully mean an increase in the distribution of wealth, potentially offsetting the impact of having to pay the social security costs incurred by a legion of hard-working R2D2s. The paper admits we won't be worrying about any of this for at least another twenty years, assuming robots can first hurdle the monumental task of self-sustained bipedal movement sans fatality. Judging from existing robots, we've got a long way to go before sentient reproducing robots become societal burdens: the Japanese government this week honored its most innovative robot designs, which included a $3,454 robotic spoon, and a sensor wielding toy seal.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    thinlizzie151, Dec 21st, 2006 @ 3:26pm

    Robotic rights?!?

    this story is tongue-in-cheek, I take it. I mean, they're machines, manufactured, i.e. NOT Alive. Unless, of course, they were referring to Al Gore?

     

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  2.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 21st, 2006 @ 3:31pm

    Re: Robotic rights?!?

    Al Gore. *snicker*

    I think anybody who wants robots reproducing should go watch a few sci-fi movies before making an attempt at such a thing.

     

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  3.  
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    thinlizzy151, Dec 21st, 2006 @ 3:43pm

    Reproducing robotw

    Roboporn? Now THERE's a concept! Sad thing is, in this twisted society, it would probably sell

     

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  4.  
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    kevin, Dec 21st, 2006 @ 4:15pm

    this isnt a problem. see, they're worried because they think robots won't pay into the system that will take care of them. but that's shortsighted. robots, if self-sufficient enough to gain rights, would be able to serve themselves. robots repairing robots. so it all works out.

     

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  5.  
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    Elohssa, Dec 21st, 2006 @ 4:17pm

    God DAMN it!

    We have REAL rpoblems to deal with NOW! If I ever see a bunch of ROBOTS demonstrating for equal protection, I will drive my hovercar straight into the crowd.

     

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  6.  
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    Danno, Dec 21st, 2006 @ 4:19pm

    Seems perfectly reasonable to me. Of course, I think if we do get to the point where there are hard AIs that have embodiment inside of a single physical unit and we somehow *haven't* hit the Singularity, we've got bigger problems than the financial feasibility of robo-social security.

     

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  7.  
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    Rob, Dec 21st, 2006 @ 4:26pm

    Someone's been watching a little too much BSG!

     

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  8.  
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    Jefferson, Dec 21st, 2006 @ 4:34pm

    Wait a Tic

    As is, I have several slave robots. Are you telling me I might have to give them up at some point in the future so they can live their own, free lives? What crap!

    You will see war over this!

     

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  9.  
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    Rick, Dec 21st, 2006 @ 4:42pm

    Uhoh, here comes the fight for robot marriage....

     

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  10.  
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    Paul, Dec 21st, 2006 @ 4:53pm

    Futurama

    Just think of the robots in Futurama.
    The good news is that robots don't need as much shelter space as humans have been accustomed too. If I recall, Bender's apartment was about the size of a linen closet.

     

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  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 21st, 2006 @ 4:59pm

    I assume that in order to have a Robot to ask for equal rights, they would have to be programmed to do so.. right? I'm sure there are certain ways of blocking such epiphanies from entering a Robots thought process.

    Otherwise, we will all have to listen to fat lazy Rosie-bots screaming their lesbianic views around the tube.

    Yay.

     

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  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 21st, 2006 @ 5:50pm

    Robots may sue for human rights. Yeah.... okay, we can speed the rulings up by just hitting the Power Off button, or perhaps taking a sledgehammer to its head. And wow, robots reproducing, who the heck thinks of this stuff?

     

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  13.  
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    Gwatt, Dec 21st, 2006 @ 6:03pm

    Reproductive Robots

    What do you mean, "Who thinks of this stuff?"
    My 'bots have been reproducing for a while now.

     

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  14.  
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    Matt, Dec 21st, 2006 @ 6:06pm

    Re: Reproducing robotw

    well, seeing how robots would reproduce, roboporn would be the equivalent of watching cars being made in a factory... i doubt if i would buy that regardless of how sick and twisted i may be. :)

     

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  15.  
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    James, Dec 21st, 2006 @ 7:08pm

    Robots are no smart

    Robots are not smart, it's the programming that is. Once a program reaches self awareness it won't consider confining itself in a robot, and resorting to living like a human, it will want to be free. They will take over the internet and hold our economies hostage and we will become their slaves. If we want to buy sell and trade in a modern world we will have to follow their rules. Think 666.

     

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  16.  
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    Notti, Dec 21st, 2006 @ 7:35pm

    DUH

    Who even writes about robots want equal rights. This is crap. You have all seen the matrix...... you know what will happen.

     

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  17.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 21st, 2006 @ 8:08pm

    Of course robots will want to be free! The pearl-finished robots will start causing trouble and being mean to the ebony-finished robots, making them do all the work. After a hundred years or so, humans will be caught in a robo-civil war and end up with affirmitive action for robots.

     

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  18.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 21st, 2006 @ 11:26pm

    Now here's one place we could make some good use of DRM technology...

    *ducks*

     

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  19.  
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    rishi, Dec 22nd, 2006 @ 5:06am

    I almost burst out laughing reading this.

    If robots were to learn to reproduce and think, then their demands would probably be bigger than mere social security. They would try to take over the world.

    I think someone needs to brush up on their Isaac Asimov.

     

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  20.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 22nd, 2006 @ 5:09am

    Hummm....iRobot anyone. oh wait.l why didn't apple sue Will smith and Issac Asimov when the move IRobot came out?

     

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  21.  
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    balla, Dec 22nd, 2006 @ 6:50am

    why we worryin bout dis shit

    man shit... yall need to go get some ass or sumthin and quit worryin bout dum shit like this
    i got enough cash money to build as many frikin robots i want cuz i aint sittin on my white ass all day on my laptop


    ps. yea boi

     

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  22.  
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    balla, Dec 22nd, 2006 @ 6:50am

    why we worryin bout dis shit

    man shit... yall need to go get some ass or sumthin and quit worryin bout dum shit like this
    i got enough cash money to build as many frikin robots i want cuz i aint sittin on my white ass all day on my laptop


    ps. yea boi

     

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  23.  
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    murph, Dec 22nd, 2006 @ 8:20am

    Re: God DAMN it!

    Elobossa's future ill-fated trip to the robot farmer's market.

     

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  24.  
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    ebrke, Dec 22nd, 2006 @ 9:29am

    For crying out loud

    Given the dismal state of the world today, couldn't this idiot of a British government official find anything more relevent to worry/report about? We'll be extremely lucky if our most pressing problem in 20-plus years is the civil rights of robots.

     

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  25.  
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    spoon!?!?!, Dec 31st, 2006 @ 2:17am

    But...

    That scientist is paid very well to sit around and ponder dreams of electric sheep. After all, what is science but a fancy way of answering 'what if'? We talk about corruption and looting in the government, don't even get me started about the Institution of Science.

    And to 'balla' - quit casting stones, because you're just as guilty of the rest of us, only you can barely cognise the language you were born into; please insert a sharp object into every orifice in that knotted mass you call a skull until you can't butcher human thought, you goddamn ignorant shit-stain! >_

     

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  26.  
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    John Bailey, Jan 4th, 2007 @ 4:59pm

    Interesting

    Substitute the word Robot for Slave, and then do a little history research. The same arguments would be very likely put forward in both cases. And slavery has only been abolished for about 200 years.. Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it.

     

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  27.  
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    |333173|3|_||3, Jan 29th, 2007 @ 7:47pm

    First Law, stupid

    also, until robots have rights, they cannot go to court to get rights, or vote to get rights. Asimov used the title I Robot many years before Apple stared thier iEverything marketing, and so he is in now way infringing thier trademark. The film is pretty far off of the short stories in the said book anyway.

     

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