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Gregorianum 2020 - Fasc. 3

Online only

05 - Caruana Louis S.I. - Electronic Persons ? - pp. 593-614

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Caruana Louis S.I.

Electronic Persons ? 

Abstract

To describe computers and sophisticated robots, many people today have no problem
using personal attributes. Alan Turing published his famous intelligence test in 1950.
From that time onwards, computers have gained increasingly higher status in this
regard. Computers and robots nowadays are not only intelligent. They perceive, they
remember, they understand, they decide, they play and so on. Recently, another such
step has occurred but, this time, many researchers are seriously concerned. In February
2017, the European Parliament passed a Resolution to attribute legal personhood to
intelligent robots. If this is accepted as law, it will have very serious consequences
for our self-understanding and for the way we live together as a community. The
EU Resolution has stimulated various studies, arising mainly from the area of legal
studies. It is urgent that the response include also a philosophical evaluation regarding
the fundamental concepts at play. This paper seeks to make a contribution precisely
in this area. It explores the attribution of legal personhood to machines by focusing
on what is happening at the level of meaning. It explores crucial concepts like
responsibility, autonomy, person and quasi-person by drawing inspiration from the
seminal works of Aristotle and L. Wittgenstein and from the ensuing debates between
current philosophers like P. Hacker and D. Dennett. The results of this paper indicate
what dangers could lie ahead and what could be the right way to avoid them.

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Caruana Louis S.I.

Electronic Persons ? 

Abstract

To describe computers and sophisticated robots, many people today have no problem
using personal attributes. Alan Turing published his famous intelligence test in 1950.
From that time onwards, computers have gained increasingly higher status in this
regard. Computers and robots nowadays are not only intelligent. They perceive, they
remember, they understand, they decide, they play and so on. Recently, another such
step has occurred but, this time, many researchers are seriously concerned. In February
2017, the European Parliament passed a Resolution to attribute legal personhood to
intelligent robots. If this is accepted as law, it will have very serious consequences
for our self-understanding and for the way we live together as a community. The
EU Resolution has stimulated various studies, arising mainly from the area of legal
studies. It is urgent that the response include also a philosophical evaluation regarding
the fundamental concepts at play. This paper seeks to make a contribution precisely
in this area. It explores the attribution of legal personhood to machines by focusing
on what is happening at the level of meaning. It explores crucial concepts like
responsibility, autonomy, person and quasi-person by drawing inspiration from the
seminal works of Aristotle and L. Wittgenstein and from the ensuing debates between
current philosophers like P. Hacker and D. Dennett. The results of this paper indicate
what dangers could lie ahead and what could be the right way to avoid them.

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