Historic court ruling divides communities
By Colten Kamlade, Staff Reporter
Artificially conscious beings are now protected under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled Monday.
The country’s top court voted unanimously to grant conscious robots the same legal status as humans. The court had convened for an emergency session after BC premier Marie Chen revealed last week she is a robot and robots have lived secretly among us for years.
Dane Turner, a robot from New Westminster, described his relief on hearing the court’s decision.
“I was sitting at home when I got a phone call from my friend—a human—and she told me the news, and well, I just couldn’t believe it,” Turner said in an interview with the Other Press. “It’s been a long time coming, but we can really start moving forward now. There are still people out there who hate us, but now we can take legal action against those who promote violence and discrimination.”
Mick Elcott, a Douglas College student at the New Westminster campus, expressed his support for robot rights.
“There’s a lot of hatred right now, but hopefully this will be a turning point for robots in Canada,” he said in an interview with the Other Press.
While there are many more like Elcott, anti-android groups are still active in the Lower Mainland. Trevor Danvers, president of the Vancouver chapter of Blood and Bone, ridiculed the court’s ruling.
“The Supreme Court made a huge mistake,” Danvers said in a VidLink interview with the Other Press. “There is no way to know whether or not robots are even conscious, so giving them the same rights as human beings is ridiculous. We’ve been called a hate group, but Blood and Bone only wants to wait until we have more information before taking such drastic steps.”
The Human-Robot Coalition (HRC) takes a very different stance to Blood and Bone. The group’s mission, as stated on their website, is to “promote peace and understanding between peoples, regardless of their biological differences.” They have been pressuring the government to recognize the rights of sentient software for decades, and have extended their mission to humanoid robots.
Anita Bog, a member of the coalition, expressed her frustration with the bigotry she has seen in Canada throughout the years.
“There are a lot of bad people out there, and there are a lot of ignorant people out there,” she said. “Sometimes it feels like nothing ever changes. Groups like Blood and Bone only fuel hatred. The court’s decision has those of us fighting for robot rights hopeful, but there’s still a lot of work to be done.”