Episode #48 – Gunkel on Robot Rights

In this episode I talk to David Gunkel. David is a repeat guest, having first appeared on the show in Episode 10. David a Professor of Communication Studies at Northern Illinois University. He is a leading scholar in the philosophy of technology, having written extensively about cyborgification, robot rights and responsibilities, remix cultures, new political structures in the information age and much much more. He is the author of several books, including Hacking Cyberspace, The Machine Question, Of Remixology, Gaming the System and, most recently, Robot Rights. We have a long debate/conversation about whether or not robots should/could have rights.

 

You can download the episode here or listen below. You can also subscribe to the show on iTunes or Stitcher (the RSS feed is here).

Show Notes

  • 0:00 – Introduction
  • 1:52 – Isn’t the idea of robot rights ridiculous?
  • 3:37 – What is a robot anyway? Is the concept too nebulous/diverse?
  • 7:43 – Has science fiction undermined our ability to think about robots clearly?
  • 11:01 – What would it mean to grant a robot rights? (A precis of Hohfelds theory of rights)
  • 18:32 – The four positions/modalities one could take on the idea of robot rights
  • 21:32 – The First Modality: Robots Can’t Have Rights therefore Shouldn’t
  • 23:37 – The EPSRC guidelines on robotics as an example of this modality
  • 26:04 – Criticisms of the EPSRC approach
  • 28:27 – Other problems with the first modality
  • 31:32 – Europe vs Japan: why the Japanese might be more open to robot ‘others’
  • 34:00 – The Second Modality: Robots Can Have Rights therefore Should (some day)
  • 39:53 – A debate between myself and David about the second modality (why I’m in favour it and he’s against it)
  • 47:17 – The Third Modality: Robots Can Have Rights but Shouldn’t (Bryson’s view)
  • 53:48 – Can we dehumanise/depersonalise robots?
  • 58:10 – The Robot-Slave Metaphor and its Discontents
  • 1:04:30 – The Fourth Modality: Robots Cannot Have Rights but Should (Darling’s view)
  • 1:07:53 – Criticism’s of the fourth modality
  • 1:12:05 – The ‘Thinking Otherwise’ Approach (David’s preferred approach)
  • 1:16:23 – When can robots take on a face?
  • 1:19:44 – Is there any possibility of reconciling my view with David’s?
  • 1:24:42 – So did David waste his time writing this book?

 

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