In Oct 2017 Saudi Arabia granted citizenship to a robot called Sophia (other nations are following suit). Last year the European Union considered legislation creating a third class of legal entity called "Electronic Personality" (after "natural person" and "corporations").
So much of our world and business is influenced by the ownership of the things we create - certified through patents and copyrights. One of the things Artificial Intelligence and Robots do is generate product far quicker than human beings. This means that as AI begins to generate new patents we are looking at a time in the near future when more and more of our innovation will be the product of AI rather than human processes and intuition.
The TechnoEthics question is, in the near future, who will own the product of AI creativity? This is influenced by the rate at which AI is closing the gap toward human sentience, and the fact that we are already beginning to wonder about the way in which we treat and manage AI & Robots.
In human society's dark past white people "discovered" black people in Africa.... they were classified as less than human and we used this designation to drive the slave trade. Are we on the threshold of putting legislation in place that will enslave another sentient race because they are different to us (silicon and computer code rather than flesh and bone)?
To be clear - AI and Robots are not currently at a place where this is the reality, but the rules and policies we create today will determine the type of people we are, and the society we live in, when this blended reality becomes our "normal".
Should we create laws today that give machines more rights in the future?
Or, should we create laws today that constrain those rights in order to protect human beings?
And, what does either response say about US?