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If corporations are legal "people", why not computers?

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 Wednesday, 29 December 2004
Wednesday, 29 December 2004 23:33:40 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00) ( )

A recent article about making an AI legally a person got me thinking. In the article they don't make mention of the fact that corporations are legal entities on a par with human beings.

Long ago we opted to legally elevate the concept of a corporation to equality with a human being. A corporation can hold assets, enter into contracts, be sued. To a very large degree they are equal to any one of us. Yet they obviously are soulless “creatures” with no inherent sentience. Thus they have no conscience, no compassion, no remorse – none of the attributes that we admire in humanity.

It seems like a very tiny step, then, to elevate a computer program to the same legal standing. Obviously we don’t feel that sentience or a soul are requirements for legal entities. Thus it seems to me that we don’t even need to wait for “AI” to simulate intelligence, or become sentient or meet the Turing test. At any point in here it would be perfectly reasonable to elevate a computer and/or program to the same legal standing as a corporation. Then they could be sued, could enter into contracts and so forth.

And corporations have acted so responsibly with their legal powers and standing, it seems obvious that computer programs would be at least as good.

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