Ah, pop culture. I am not sure what you are, I am just sure I love you. You are what everyone knows and love (maybe) and you are there for us to answer many of the most troubling questions humanity ever asked: who would win a fight between Superman and Goku?
But you also make questions that need to be made and someday we will be confronted with what are hypothetical questions today and how to deal with it and why we done it when they were asked. Questions like...
When an Artificial Intelligence is so advanced to be considered sentient? If they are sentient, have them the same rights as human, who are also sentient? Many movies, TV shows and games asks you those questions. And from everything I will talk about here, this seems to be the one we will need to answer sooner than later, as AI advances significantly as computing tech advances.
AI who can express an opinion, follow their own will instead of its programming and even being able to develop emotions may one day become reality. So, if this day comes and they start wanting civil rights, what we do? Remember that for centuries we enslaved Africans and used the justification that they weren't really humans to do it. Will machines develop to a point where they are so close with the human mind that they deserve the same treatment? We don't know, and only sci-fi writers have asked this till now. I really think it will be funny when justice courts all over the world will be reunited in front of a computer screen deciding if it is sentient or not.
Aliens will propose the same question we will have with AIs. What is a sentient being? Will they have the same rights as us? But also make several new questions: How we apply our laws at them? What about their physiological and philosophical differences? See, what we do if aliens lives longer than us? Or that they need to kill and devour their kind as a physical need? Do we apply the same laws and concepts upon them or create laws based on that differences?
What if they have slaves? Do we respect their culture and let them or make all in our power to free those slaves? Our culture have this tendency to try to impose ourselves upon others, but it is pretty hard to do it if the aliens we eventually met are far superior in tech and resources than us. And both AI and aliens propose another question:
What if an human being fall in love with an alien or an AI? See, the problem here is double, because what we do here? We have the rights of the human being to take in account and whatever the rights of aliens and AIs may have. What if are the aliens are against this marriage? And what we do with the children, if children even happens to the couple? I believe the first real marriage between an human and a non-human (Love Plus DS girls aren't sentient beings) will rise a lot of polemic. And talking about polemics....
Do you see the blonde girl with point ears by Hal Jordan side? She is Arisia, a Green Lantern who, in the comics, date Hal. And she looks like a teenager girl. By human standards, of course. She is in fact decades older than Hal. But how we will judge this? By physical age, real age or mental age? And how about AI? How we judge its maturity? And how about an AI in an android (robot make to looks like humans) body resembling and under aged girl, but with a mind of a 40 year old? How we deal with that?
You may be dismissing those questions because they refer to non-humans and therefore all new legislation will be needed. But how about humans? And what if...
... mutants become real? Or better yet, what if a new breed of humans come up? I am not talking about small, cosmetic things like hair color or size, but real genetic changes that make this new variety of humans being completely different from the Homo sapiens kind? A really new species? Will we grant them the same rights, as they come from us? Will we treat them as aliens and AIs?
And them we have another kind of human being, who is exactly like humans but different. Clones. What we do with clones? It is pretty possible that in a very near possible we will have some crazy scientist in some country with less tight ethic laws about it will create an human clone. Who are his parents? His family? Do he have right to the heritage of its genetic material donor? Again, this is something who can happen very soon, if not happened already, and I know no country with any kind of law about how to deal with them.
|Who's your daddy! No really, who?|
I like the fact that sci-fi authors have already proposed most of those possibilities and that someone made those questions. All we need know is the answers. Do you have some?