Over at io9, an anonymous blogger is asking the tough questions:
People have long imagined automatons for society’s drudge work. The possibility and its implications are among science fiction’s favorite topics. One question that crops up constantly: What is a sentient android’s legal status? Is something that feels still property?
Extending human rights to an android is an interesting proposal. While the author lays out four different instances, starting with Star Trek’s Data, of androids challenging their status as machines, the writer doesn’t go quite far enough. What are the implications of extending human rights to androids? How does the connection between slavery in the U.S. (emancipation to the gradual extension of rights) and androids fit in to this thought experiment? Is there a better system — partial rights — to extend to androids and does that raise a “separate but equal” concern?