July 11, 2023 2:51 pm

Should Robots Have Rites or Rights

Here’s some food for thought: “Granting rights is not the only way to address the moral status of robots: Envisioning robots as rites bearers—not rights bearers—could work better.” A new paper, “Should Robots Have Rites or Rights,” suggests that “the Confucian alternative of assigning rites (or role obligations) is more appropriate than giving robots rights. The concept of rights is often adversarial and competitive, and the potential for conflict between humans and robots is concerning.”

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Full PDF of the paper

Excerpts:

In Confucianism, individuals are made distinctively human by their ability to conceive of interests not purely in terms of personal self-interest—but instead in terms that also include a relational and communal self. Etymologically, the meaning of humanness ( , ren) is “two people.” The Confucian’s recognition of the communal self requires a distinctive perspective on rite or ritual. The Chinese term li ( , rite or ritual) symbolizes arranging vessels in a religious setting. But Confucian texts used li outside the scope of religious tradition. Examples abound, including friendship, gift giving, or forms of speech. The rites that concern Confucius are quotidian practices. Here is a modern example: “I see you on the street; I smile, walk toward you, put out my hand to shake yours. And behold—without any command, stratagem, force, special tricks or tools, without any effort on my part to make you do so, you spontaneously turn toward me, return my smile; raise your hand toward mine. We shake hands—not by my pulling your hand up and down or you pulling mine but by spontaneous and perfect cooperative action. Normally we do not notice the subtlety and amazing complexity of this coordination ritual act.”

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