What is the legal status of Humanoid robots?

The world has crossed an important red line with the humanoid robot namely Mika, which is functioning as a CEO of a company. Mika is said to be the sister of Sophia, which earlier had created history by being the first robot to be granted citizenship of a country.

In India we are seeing humanoid robots being teachers in schools, receptionists in Banks, news readers in TV stations. I am sure that apart from the “Drones”, “Robotic soldiers” are being developed across the globe by all countries including China, US, Japan and perhaps India too.

At the same time Neuroscientists are also creating “Cyborgs” who are humans with implanted computing devices.

The question we want to ask ourselves today is how does law respond to these kind of developments where AI is merging with humans and humans are merging with AI?

At present AI is a creation of a human being and in Jurisprudence it is a “Tool” operated by the human and hence the legal consequences of the actions of AI are attributed to the human behind the creation. But just as a parent is responsible for the actions of his minor upto a certain age and thereafter the responsibilities pass on to the erstwhile minor who is now a “Major”, the AI remains a “Subordinate AI” upto a point of time and thereafter becomes “Independent AI”.

We need to decide if “Independent AI” which has near human like cognitive capabilities and decision making capabilities not entirely dependent on the past instructional inputs should be given a legal status independent of its creator and made responsible for its own decisions.

The “Cyborgs” like Neil Harbisson are a different category. They were born human but endowed with super human capabilities through an implant. These cyborgs have come to existence because of a medical necessity that prompted them to take the adventurous life but other instances of similar kind indicate that the future of humanity is that of Cyborgs. It is expected that many individuals will provide consent to become cyborgs to improve their functionality.

The Problem for Jurisprudents is to determine how to treat these Cyborgs, Humanoid robots , Generative AI algorithms in terms of law. Are these different classes of Juridical entities to whom the law has to be defined?

Just as a ANI/AGI develops into ASI and we can consider it like the human attaining maturity through the aging process from a minor to a major, the Cyborg before implant and after implant is a different individual and Jurisprudence has to recognize this transition from a human to Cyborg as a difference in status. May be we have to trat this like a “Sex Change” operation of a human where a “male” may become a “female” and vice versa which may have already come for discussion in the Jurisprudential circles at present.

Thus we need to not only define these new humanoid types in law but also enable the law to recognize the transition of an entity from one state to another.

As we continue this discussion, we will be entering into philosophical discussions also when we visualize the future of Cybernetics and how human race will change over the next few decades.

I will keep Cyber Philosophy discussion for another day.


About Vijayashankar Na

Naavi is a veteran Cyber Law specialist in India and is presently working from Bangalore as an Information Assurance Consultant. Pioneered concepts such as ITA 2008 compliance, Naavi is also the founder of Cyber Law College, a virtual Cyber Law Education institution. He now has been focusing on the projects such as Secure Digital India and Cyber Insurance
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