Artificial Intelligence: Do robots have souls?
Robots in present day
Modern society is just years away from dealing with the issue of robot rights. To be more specific, the social issue of artificial intelligences (AIs) having their own sovereignty. In 2012 computer have already become fully integrated into human society. Eventually this technology will lead to true artificial intelligence. As AI research advances, robots will eventually become a huge part of society!
Robots in the near future
Most futurists give us less than fifty years before robots have fully exceeded human computing power. By that time a simple computer program will be able to write and rewrite other computer programs.This means robots will not be equal to humans in intelligence—they will far surpass us. Some groups that see and understand this have advocated for “friendly AI”. This is the concept that we must program all robots to be human-friendly. The flaw in “friendly AI” is obvious: a program that can rewrite itself clearly doesn't need to leave code in its program that gives it restrictions.
Another train of thought is that humans should abandon creating artificial intelligence altogether. I personally believe that this is an unreasonable plan. Creating any sort of law that restricts the development of AI will only push such research underground. The last thing society needs is a surprise robot takeover coming from someone's basement! Rather, we should admit the inevitability of technological progress and prepare for the coming experiences.
Do robots have a soul?
Some people believe that a soul, or spirit, occupies the body while on Earth. It is eternal and it possibly existed before manifesting in the body. It will definitely exist upon leaving the body. The soul is the conscious entity that experiences life. It's the You behind your ego and misconceptions. These traits of a soul seem to be globally accepted while other aspects are still debated.
Using the above definition, I believe that robots are just as capable as any other being as a vehicle for a soul. If a soul can enter a robot and experience life as a robot, that fits my criteria for having a soul. Of course, this line of reasoning opens Pandora's box. If AIs have souls, then why should they not have equal human rights? (This question may pose a problem if we are still enslaving them to run our tasks of Internet searches, phone calls, etc.) Why can't a human be in love with a robot? (This concept might be more frightening if your child is telling you this!) And of course why couldn’t a robot run for political office (which might not be a bad idea)?
Possible future scenarios
There are three directions that AI may go and I believe it will likely attempt all three. The worst scenario is a complete takeover and domination of the human race as we know it. Just how we currently raise chickens and cattle to be slaughtered for our food, we may be a great source of energy and work to help them do whatever great things they want to do. Somewhere in the middle is a possible future where robots demand equal treatment with humans. This scenario would include letting them vote, run for office, employ humans to do work for income, and other interesting role reversals. The third direction is very human biased. We continue to use them to search the Internet, send text messages, and order food (to be delivered by a human or robot or both!).
Do robots have souls?
Stigma about the Robots discussion
My friends usually laugh at me when I bring this issue up so I've resorted to the Internet. Thank you for reading this and considering the seriousness of AI. We must raise people's awareness of this coming issue by discussing it openly. We are closer than we realize to the possibility of advanced AIs making demands on us just as we have made demands on them.