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Friday, July 28, 2023

Humans, Neanderthals, robots and rights

Mamak, K.
Ethics Inf Technol 24, 33 (2022).


Robots are becoming more visible parts of our life, a situation which prompts questions about their place in our society. One group of issues that is widely discussed is connected with robots’ moral and legal status as well as their potential rights. The question of granting robots rights is polarizing. Some positions accept the possibility of granting them human rights whereas others reject the notion that robots can be considered potential rights holders. In this paper, I claim that robots will never have all human rights, even if we accept that they are morally equal to humans. I focus on the role of embodiment in the content of the law. I claim that even relatively small differences in the ontologies of entities could lead to the need to create new sets of rights. I use the example of Neanderthals to illustrate that entities similar to us might have required different legal statuses. Then, I discuss the potential legal status of human-like robots.


The place of robots in the law universe depends on many things. One is our decision about their moral status, but even if we accept that some robots are equal to humans, this does not mean that they have the same legal status as humans. Law, as a human product, is tailored to a human being who has a body. Embodiment impacts the content of law, and entities with different ontologies are not suited to human law. As discussed here, Neanderthals, who are very close to us from a biological point of view, and human-like robots cannot be counted as humans by law. Doing so would be anthropocentric and harmful to such entities because it could ignore aspects of their lives that are important for them. It is certain that the current law is not ready for human-like robots.

Here is a summary: 

In terms of robot rights, one factor to consider is the nature of robots. Robots are becoming increasingly sophisticated, and some experts believe that they may eventually become as intelligent as humans. If this is the case, then it is possible that robots could deserve the same rights as humans.

Another factor to consider is the relationship between humans and robots. Humans have a long history of using animals, and some people argue that robots are simply another form of animal. If this is the case, then it is possible that robots do not deserve the same rights as humans.
  • The question of robot rights is a complex one, and there is no easy answer.
  • The nature of robots and the relationship between humans and robots are two important factors to consider when thinking about robot rights.
  • It is important to start thinking about robot rights now, before robots become too sophisticated.