AI Citizenship

On a lazy Sunday evening, cozy sweater rumpled, muffled music playing in the background, I was scrolling through my newsfeed and came across a peculiar question: should robots be given citizenship rights?

Such questions make me realise the pace with which technology is advancing. They say ignorance is bliss, but that which you can ignore must be lackluster in some sense itself. The concept of artificial intelligence, giving a combination of materials combined with electric energy, the same functionality and rights as flesh-filled humans, with growing brains and conversational abilities unmatched by any other animals, is far from that.

On an objective basis, humans too are simply a composition of materials, of blood, muscle and tissue, powered by the electric energy in our brains. In this sense, why shouldn’t AI robots be given the same rights we possess? They’re being built to think as we do, converse and respond to emotion as most of us do, why then should they not have the same capacity and accessibility on a legal basis? Why not consider their robotic build a learning disability, a child learning to grow, or a racial difference?

It’s because they were artificially created. Humans, so many people believe, evolved from other species, who evolved from other living matter that inhabited the earth after the big bang. Humans, are natural. But our world is no longer solely composed of natural components, and while I’m the first to refute an endless advancement into artificial creations, AI robots are, ironically, a very ‘natural’ progression from what we have already seen.

It’s surreal to contemplate, difficult to digest, outright absurd to absorb; but, like all monumental turning points in the winding staircase of history, though you may not see it at first, in time it will not only normalize, but it too will be advanced upon. Its onset infuses a palpable itch, an excitable and stomach-twisting feeling, and given the many more complications that will rise over time, such new opportunities offer the potential to expedite development in ways incomprehensible only before.



Humans have this fascinating ability to wholeheartedly believe in things that make little to no intuitive sense. From humans of varying skin tones to humans of different genders, we as a species have convinced ourselves that difference means wrong. We’ve been socialized into looking at conformity and the notion of ”normal” synonymously, as if recurring entities are the only method by which we may cement truths.

In fact, normal is in itself a social construct. Socialized norms are prevalent over virtually every facet of today’s society, seamlessly embedded in our daily conduct. The incredible power socialization possesses petrifies me; it’s the biggest brain-washer this world has ever seen, and we’re the very enablers of it.

If International Development is ever to be achieved in its entirety, it requires humans to recognize that they have been socialized into particular ways of life. It calls for a re-structuring of the very manner in which we’ve constructed supposedly objective, infallible truths. Fundamental concepts such as the female half of the species needing to devote their lives to care-taking, and certain characteristics only being attributed to particular variations of this species need to be uprooted. Biology only suggests deviations to so far an extent; the rest has been wildly exaggerated over time and grown increasingly inaccurate through our rash assumptions and inability to consider alternatives as we are consistently fed these ”truths”.

Over time, I hope to try and explore some of these embedded assumptions and consider how such a re-structuring could be accomplished. With this blog, I’m looking to raise awareness about a range of international development issues, and offer my opinion on the theoretical, epistemological and ontological aspects of such current affairs.