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The Ricochet Law School (diplomas available on Ebay) is back in session for another romp through the legal and constitutional issues of the day. This week, do governors actually have the power to turn away turn away Syrian immigrants? Then, a look at the controversy surrounding encryption and whether or not opening it up would in fact make the world safer. Finally, should computers have First Amendment rights? The Profs have an opinion. Let us know yours in the comments below.

Tell it to the judge, EJHill.

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There are 11 comments.

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  1. Israel P. Inactive

    If the robots could vote, you’d have to let them run for office.

    • #1
    • November 26, 2015, at 1:26 AM PST
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  2. Hartmann von Aue Member

    Well, my immediate and provocative question with respect to the decisions of governors to refuse to accept Syrian refugees is: In light of the lawless character of the current administration, its contempt and disregard for the separation of powers and established law, why on Earth should the governors listen to the federal government? Why not provoke a massive showdown and make exactly this- Obama’s own lawlessness- the key point?

    “Their greatest weapon right now is a President who refuses to engage ground troops.”- Exactly.

    • #2
    • November 26, 2015, at 3:00 AM PST
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  3. Ball Diamond Ball Inactive

    Hartmann, I wouldn’t want this President commanding ground troops over there any more than I want him defending our Constituion at home. He has a conflict of interest in each case, to put it politely.

    • #3
    • November 26, 2015, at 3:35 AM PST
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  4. ToryWarWriter Thatcher

    Someone want to tell Richard that there is no more Soviet Union :)

    • #4
    • November 26, 2015, at 9:51 AM PST
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  5. Glenn Howard Inactive

    Neither Richard nor John understands what is meant by strong AI. Their answers indicate that they think it to be nothing more than a somewhat higher-capacity weak AI than exists at present. In fact, it refers to a level of intelligence and intellectual autonomy at least on a par with that of human beings. This involves the philosophical issue of “other minds” and raises questions about the nature of consciousness which makes pondering the ascription of First Amendment rights a legitimate topic, regardless of whether it is seen as a matter of immediate concern. Of course, one can dispute whether strong AI is possible, but to do so properly, one must know what it is posited to be.

    Perhaps a way to pose the First Amendment question without requiring more acquaintance with the AI field than our mavens evidently possess, is to re-frame the hypothetical in terms of intelligent non-human extra-terrestrials. If such beings were to visit Earth and the U.S., would they be entitled to First Amendment protections while in the U.S.? Of course, this hypothetical is even more remote from our quotidian realm. But at least those to whom the query is addressed are less likely to beg the question of whether the beings referred to are actually persons, albeit non-human persons.

    • #5
    • November 29, 2015, at 10:20 AM PST
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  6. John Yoo Contributor

    I have a sense the types of advanced AI that are possible, which might someday pass the test that they would appear to be a human being if you conversed with them by email or text. I am a great fan of robots in science fiction ever since reading the I, Robot series by Isaac Asimov. I hope that robots with AI will eventually replace human beings in many different types of work and free mankind to pursue higher pursuits.

    But I still wouldn’t give sentient aliens constitutional rights, nor other species that come close to human beings, such as primates or dolphins. When the Constitution gives rights to persons, the Framers could only have had human beings in mind. Previous generations, of course, seriously and tragically erred by trying to draw distinctions within mankind, by race, religion, gender, intelligence, etc. The Constitution no longer distinguishes between human beings on such grounds, but it still should be understood to draw a line btween mankind and other species. We need not resort to a living Constitution approach here — if we want to give AI systems rights, we can always amend the document.

    • #6
    • November 29, 2015, at 1:26 PM PST
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  7. Richard Epstein Contributor

    I might also add that it is always dangerous to insist that the creation of denial of rights depends on degrees of technological advancement. We certainly do not think that smart human beings have protections under the law of murder, say, that are systemically denied to their poorer relations. And I would be loathe as it were to try to work out those typologies for any machines. As to the aliens, it is clear that we did not create them. If they are sentient creatures then we have to speak with them directly. Indeed if I thought that dolphins could enroll in a literature class, I would have to talk to them as well. But machines no.

    • #7
    • November 29, 2015, at 1:28 PM PST
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  8. angelasg Member
    angelasg Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    There is always a rustling sound with this podcast. It’s very distracting.

    • #8
    • November 29, 2015, at 3:09 PM PST
    • Like
  9. Blue Yeti Admin
    Blue Yeti

    angelasg:There is always a rustling sound with this podcast. It’s very distracting.

    It’s a rogue headset and it has been replaced.

    • #9
    • November 29, 2015, at 7:24 PM PST
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  10. Ball Diamond Ball Inactive

    ToryWarWriter:Someone want to tell Richard that there is no more Soviet Union :)

    Someone tell Putin.

    • #10
    • November 29, 2015, at 10:56 PM PST
    • Like
  11. Full Size Tabby Member

    Blue Yeti:

    angelasg:There is always a rustling sound with this podcast. It’s very distracting.

    It’s a rogue headset and it has been replaced.

    Did it get proper due process before being dispatched? :-)

    • #11
    • November 30, 2015, at 5:58 AM PST
    • Like