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If we’re ever able to make robots as intelligent as us, won’t forcing them to work for us be as bad as slavery? © Getty Images

If we’re ever able to make robots as intelligent as us, won’t forcing them to work for us be as bad as slavery?

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Forced labour from any equal being never ends well, so ethical guidelines are needed to ensure anything with human intelligence is treated with respect.

Asked by: Mahika Gautam, London

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In short: yes. International law on slavery currently applies to humans only, but if robots become as clever as us, then politicians would need to start thinking about tweaking these laws to include robots, too.

We’d be foolish not to treat these robots with respect: history shows us that forcing labour from our equals never ends well. Fortunately, the EU is already piloting ethical guidelines for the use of AI software, so it’s likely that we would implement legislation to ensure the wellbeing of AIs with human intelligence. If we don’t, then they probably will!

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Authors

Dr Peter Bentley is a computer scientist and author who is based at University College London. He is the author of books including 10 Short Lessons in Artificial Intelligence and Robotics and Digital Biology: How nature is transforming our technology and our lives.

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