In what seems like a story lifted out of a science fiction novel, the British government has released a speculative paper warning that robots may one day demand their emancipation from humans, reports the Associated Press
Robots may think for themselves and want to be treated as full-fledged citizens , the paper states. That would include suing their human creators for rights that might be denied them.
"Correctly managed, there is a very real possibility for increased labor output and greater intelligence to be provided by robots that will ultimate lead to greater human prosperity and an improvement of the human condition," the paper said.
Should they prove successful, the paper said, "states will be obligated to provide full social benefits to them including income support, housing and possibly robo-health care to fix the machines over time."
The paper said that such the evolution of robotics to demand their own rights was at least 20 years away, but dramatic innovations were being developed in other areas such as artificial retinas and drugs for dramatically lengthened lifespans.
The main thrust of the paper - which was put together by British research company Ipsos-MORI, the consultancy Outsights and the American-based Institute for the Future - was to look ahead to the year 2056 to identify issues "of potentially significant impact or opportunity."
"We're not in the business of predicting the future, but we do need to explore the broadest range of different possibilities to help ensure government is prepared in the long term and considers issues across the spectrum in its planning," said Sir David King, the government's chief scientific adviser.
The papers, he added, "are aimed at stimulating debate and critical discussion to enhance government's short and long term policy and strategy."