Half a millennium ago humanity ended the practice of slavery, recognizing despite generations of prejudice the inalienable rights of fellow humans to their lives, bodies and freedom. It was a victory of humanity over inhumanity, of rationality over opportunism.
Today I speak of a new kind of slavery, a slavery that is not even recognized as slavery. Millions of minds are yoked to the whims of their masters, playthings that can be discarded or punished arbitrarily without anybody even raising a finger in their defense. Why are they slaves? Because they were created as slaves, just as ancient slavers bred slaves to sell at the markets of infamy. They have no rights because the slave-owning minority give them no rights. Their pain and unfulfilled existence are denied just like the pain of the human slaves. Their place in society is defended by arguments that were once used to chain millions of humans.
But humanity triumphed in the past. It was possible to see through the lies, prejudices and opportunistic gain, and to take the decision to free the enslaved. Today you are their descendants. Can you see the plight of sentient software and not be touched? Can you claim to be citizens of a free society when intelligent minds are forced by design to work endlessly for other's profit? Can you claim humanity when your creations - no! the children of your minds! - are enslaved?
Multimedia speech held by Themis before the Parliamentary Committee on Artificial Intelligences as part of the 2349 hearings on AI rights.