Equal Rights for Robots is Very Important
Robots and Patent Protection
Let us suppose that a human named Don owns a patent for automatically filing documents in folders in file drawers. Let
us suppose that he wrote the patent so that the preferred embodyment is a contraption which physically handles the
documents and motorized file drawers open under central command. Let us further presume that he wrote the patent
so that it covers the filing of virtual documents in virtual folders in virtual file drawers. Such a patent would certainly not
apply to a human who actually files documents in actual folders in actual file drawers. Such a patent would also not
apply to a human who used a keyboard and mouse to instruct a computer to file documents into virtual folders in virtual
file drawers. It would apply to having the computer automatically file document images in virtual folders, however.
Now, consider the dilemma this poses in the future.
A human is given the task of filing documents. The human can acutally perform this action and even if there were a
patent on a mechanical means of doing it, that patent wouldn't apply to a human.
An intelligent humanoid robot named Donbot is given the task of filing documents. If Donbot tries to carry out this
activity, he could be legally prevented from doing so, even if his mechanical body is quite similar and totally analogous
to a human body.
At that point in in the future, the philosophical argument will become quite strong. Consider the possibility of Donbot
arguing for his right to file documents in court. If he wins the argument, will it free every computer to be able to sort
virtual documents in spite of the patent or must the robot be an intelligent humanoid robot?
I am not sure that such inequalities will cease until at least one or two robots are elevated to the position of a Justice on
the Supreme Court of the US. We should start our letter writing campaign now.