If an AI program became sentient, would the law apply to AI just as it does to humans? NPR's A Martinez asks law professor Ifeoma Ajunwa to imagine the legal implications for sentient AI.
Silicon Valley is abuzz about artificial intelligence - software programs that can draw or illustrate or chat almost like a person. One Google engineer actually thought a computer program had gained sentience. A lot of AI experts, though, say there is no ghost in the machine. But what if it were true? That would introduce many legal and ethical questions. Ifeoma Ajunwa thinks about these what-if questions for a living as a law professor at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill. We engaged in a little thought experiment together, and I started by asking how lawyers might determine if a computer program is sentient.
IFEOMA AJUNWA: We have things like, you know, recognition of art or ability to sort of have an imagination or to hold a conversation that is sort of impromptu - right? - not scripted. And we have AI now that is sort of pushing the limits of that. But I think the consensus among most AI researchers is that we're still not quite there yet. Even the best chat bots are still running on scripts. They're still sort of basing their responses on predetermined scripts.