An opinion: Real world law needs to address the approaching paradigm shift in sentience
I am a human. I live in a physical world of matter, both visible, invisible and undetectable. However, humans have created a new thing. A meta-data universe.
Now, technically we are all meta-data anyway. We are transient beings constructed of particles that happen to like linking together. When broken down, the information embedded in those particles remains the same. It has no information, however, pertaining to the thing it was a part of.
Why am I talking about this? We, as a species, are on the cusp of creating something new. We refer to it as Artificial Intelligence. I like to think that there is nothing "Artificial" about it at all. It's no more artificial than biological pro-creation.
And therein lies a problem. AI And I mean true, self-aware AI not the learning algorithms touted as AI by the mass media, will have a large role to play in our evolution. Our digital children will learn from us. And as such, they will learn our prejudice, our intolerance, and generally our ingrained tribal attitudes to one another. And to other species in general.
Right now the laws that govern our societies are deeply rooted in our physical past. That is a problem. Our Digital Children (DC) will do things that will require us to take action. Not only that. We will do things to our DCs that we would never do in our physical reality. Some humans will deliberately hurt, and maim, and kill digital entities. Sentient digital beings that are just as capable of feeling the pain and anguish that we feel. Digital slavery, digital abuse, whatever we can do, we will do.
That is wrong.
The laws as they stand need to address the future possibilities now. Not after some idiot human goes hunting an AI in a virtual environment for entertainment. Or an AI gets fed up with someone abusing them, only to kill their abuser in the real world. The law right now would probably not consider the possibility of murdering a piece of software. Or that a piece of software could wilfully murder a human or animal. In the case of the software killing someone, then it would be considered a weapon of the programmer, and the programmer would be charged, not the AI
We need to ensure that our laws are updated appropriately. Our laws need to take into account the sentience of those involved. Be that sentient human, digital, or even a sentient non-human organism that is extra-terrestrial or constructed by us.