The 1st Robot Citizen: Citizenship for Ideas

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In Saudi Arabia the world’s first robot citizen seems to have come into being, and the political and legal implications have the internet talking. But the technical philosophical implications are food for thought in our more down to earth fields.

If we think of a robot as the incarnation of a codebase, set of ideas, or solution to a technical problem, then what does it mean to anthropomorphize these ideas?

In the case of natural law and core ethics, some of which have taken mankind far too long to learn, we can say that some ideas should be preserved with tenacity. Just as we don’t wish humans to be replaced, we don’t wish love and respect for our fellow people to be replaced by any rationally justified bouts of fear and hatred.

In the case of technical solutions, we submit we have to be ruthlessly unattached. Those ideas which are correct will survive, excepting the occasionally irrational fear of niche tech areas. Those which are found to be wrong need to be called out. Developers who have grown skills specific to now-supplanted answers need to be ready to go the extra mile to learn better ways.

With the proliferation of information in our age, we have to filter more effectively and faster to get the best information, indeed this is one of the areas AI is helping us most effectively. Giving technology a face and a name is wonderfully evocative and thought provoking, but we must be careful the attachment doesn’t lead to an unlikely Neo-Luddism. The technology space is a whiteboard that’s going to need erasing often to make space.