Living in the Age of Machines - Do we need a second Bill of Rights?

The initial Bill of Rights, written by James Madison in 1789, served to facilitate the passage, acceptance and ratification of the constitution by the 13 colonies as the United States was being formed. These individual rights were identified specifically to protect freedoms that the people of the United States already had. Citizens were concerned that the new Federal Government might infringe upon them. In other words, the Bill of Rights was devised to AVOID future possible infringement by the federal government. The Bill of Rights was PRE-EMPTIVE. It has served as the basis for considerable thought, legal scrutiny and precedence for nearly 250 years. The rights guaranteed in The Bill of Rights are VITAL to the lives we live today and to the legal framework of society in the United States.

Since then the world has changed and expanded considerably. We live in a global world and even the farthest points of that world can be reached in a matter of hours. Information flows abundantly and instantly via the internet. Today people can pick up and move cross country in a matter of hours. Alternatively they can travel thousands of miles with minimal danger and they can get to their destination on their own path and at their own pace. Robust currencies, guaranteed by central governments, have become electronic, exchangeable and pervasive. Everything is for sale and can be purchased with the click of a button. Today, with a single video recording, the entire world may know what we are doing, where we are and how we are behaving. We choose how our families will be structured. Some take a pass on children others have a dozen, but no longer is family size based on need or on abysmal survival rates, but on freedom of choice.

Technology gives us great power and improves our lives 9 times out of 10. But there is something unsettling about the way that technology seduces us as well, and I think that many of us feel it in our souls. We have slowly become accustomed to sacrificing our privacy in the name of convenience. Sacrificing freedoms and rights in the name of safety. Just like technological growth has accelerated, I am concerned that those sacrifices will accelerate more quickly as well. That is what ForHumanity wants to safeguard against, because as technology becomes more and more pervasive, we expect these sacrifices to increases and become second nature to many. ForHumanity believes that it is vital now to protect a few the things that make us human, because it is likely that technological progress will infringe upon those rights sooner rather than later.

With the advent of Artificial Intelligence (AI)and Robotics, ForHumanity has become concerned that some of these freedoms that are not explicitly covered by the constitution may become usurped in the name of technology. Furthermore, as I have begun to engage in the dialogue that AI experts are having around future society, I see ideas and concepts that are petrifying. Many casual followers of the expansion of AI might be astonished at the ideas some leading academics and practitioners in AI are putting forward. It is my hope that a robust dialogue on this subject may serve to safeguard humanity and the rights we enjoy today. ForHumanity believes it is smart to protect these rights NOW before AI, both narrow and general, dramatically change the world we are living in. Before AI can threaten these rights that we hold dear. Rights that we have held so sacred and sacrosanct that our founders didn’t even think to write them down.

One might argue, do we really need to protect these rights now? I would counter that it can no longer wait. The concern is great enough that there are regular conferences and discussions happening where ethics, standards, practices and policy are being crafted already. It’s as if we are ordering the pizza NOW, if you speak up, you have a decent chance of getting the toppings that you would like. If you do not, you will eat what arrives, like it or not.

Here is my list of a few of the rights that we enjoy today but I would like us to consider guaranteeing. This list is not exhaustive and each of these ideas will need discussion and refining however I am not willing to wait and believe that the discussion must be started and work needs to be done now:

  1. Right to mobility (Right to drive)
  2. Right to use Currency (prevent machines from controlling currency)
  3. Right to Privacy (right to unplug)
  4. Right to Procreate

I was about to explore each one of these individually and then I realized… that’s going to take some time, so I will do it in four individual blog posts. So instead I want to leave you with 4 questions to ponder…

  1. Would you be happy if the government told you when and where you could go?
  2. Would you be happy if a 100% automated company could buy and sell vital resources, unchecked by humans?
  3. Would you be happy to be told that you MUST have electronic health records for government provided health care?
  4. Would you be happy to be told that in your life you could only have 1 child?

If you answer “No” to any or all of those questions, then you are aligned with the thinking of ForHumanity and would probably like to safeguard your rights on those issues. If you answered “Yes”, I’m not sure why, to be honest as I am seeking a serious path of least resistance here, but I would love to know and understand your thinking as well. I am keen for dialogue on each of these subjects, so please respond. I will aim to post four more blog posts, one for each of these points over the coming week.

PrivacyHuman RightsArtificial IntelligenceMachine LearningAutomation