Incorporating Robots into Human Law - An Analysis of Robot Prototyping in Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner and Alex Proyas’ I, Robot.

Katarzyna Ginszt


Science fiction narratives have not only influenced the way the majority of people imagine the future, but they have also shaped the general expectations for the technological development. This phenomenon has been called “science fiction prototyping” by Brian David Johnson. The prototype of a robot is created by science fiction works. Robots as artificially created entities are often presented as potential “members” of future society. Therefore, their legal status in imaginary reality is worth considering.

The analysis of Blade Runner (1982) by Ridley Scott and I, Robot (2004) by Alex Proyas juxtaposes features that, according to the legal tradition, are most often attributed to moral subjects of legal protection with human-like features of robots. The interdisciplinary approach adopted in this study involves applying legal reasoning to the study of science fiction.


science fiction prototyping, robot ethics, robot rights, law, AI

Full Text:



Almog, Shulamit. 2014. “Dystopian Narratives and Legal Imagination: Tales of Noir Cities and Dark Laws.” Law and the Utopian Imagination, ed. Austin Sarat, Lawrence Douglas, and Martha Merrill Umphrey, 155-178. Stanford: Stanford University Press.

Bhaumik, Arkapravo. 2018. From AI to Robotics: Mobile, Social, and Sentient Robots. Boca Raton FL: CRC Press.

Calverley, David. 2005. “Toward a method for determining the legal status of a conscious machine.” AISB 2005 Symposium on Next Generation Approaches to Machine Consciousness: Imagination, Development, Intersubjectivity, and Embodiment, 75-84. Hatfield: University of Hertfordshire.

Chu, Seo-Young. 2010. Do Metaphors Dream of Literal Sleep? A Science-Fictional Theory of Representation. Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press.

Goertzel, Ben. 2019. “Thoughts on AI morality”. Dynamic Psychology: An International, Intedisciplinary Journal of Complex Mental Processes. Accessed 15 Dec. 2019.

Gunkel, David J. 2018. Robot Rights. Cambridge MA: The MIT Press.

Hildt, Elisabeth. 2019. “Artificial Intelligence: Does Consciousness Matter?” Frontiers in Psychology. Accessed 3 Dec. 2019.

Johnson, Brian David. 2009. “Science Fiction Prototypes Or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying about the Future and Love Science Fiction.” Intelligent Environments 2009 Proceedings of the 5th International Conference on Intelligent Environments, ed. Vic Callaghan, Achilles Kameas, Angelica Reyes, Dolors Royo and Michael Webe, 3-8. IOS Press.

---. 2011. Science Fiction Prototyping: Designing the Future with Science Fiction. Williston: Morgan and Claypool Publishers.

Lehman-Wilzig, Sam. 1981. “Frankenstein unbound: Towards a legal definition of artificial intelligence.” Futures 13 (6): 442-457.

Neuhäser, Christian. 2015. “Some skeptical remarks regarding robot responsibility and a way forward.” Collective Agency and Cooperation in Natural and Artificial Systems: Explanation, Implementation, and Simulation, 131-148. New York: Springer.

Olivier, Bert. 2008. “When Robots would really be Human Simulacra: Love and the Ethical in Spielberg's AI and Proyas's I, Robot.” Film Philosophy 12 (2): 30-44.

Richards Neil M., and William D. Smart. 2016. “How should the law think about robots?” Robot Law, ed. Ryan Calo, A. Michael Froomkin and Ian Kerr, 3-22. Edward Elgar Publishing Limited.

“Robot.” Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Accessed 3 Dec. 2019.

“Robot.” Oxford English Dictionary. Accessed 1 Dec. 2019.

Russell Stuart J., and Peter Norvig. 2016. Artificial Intelligence: A Modern Approach. Pearson.

Santosuosso, Amadeo. 2016. “The human rights of nonhuman artificial entities: An oxymoron?” Jahrbuch fur Wissenschaft und Ethic 19 (1): 203-238.

Senior, W.A. 1996. “Blade Runner and Cyberpunk Visions of Humanity.” Film Criticism 21 (1): 1-12.

Shanahan, Timothy. 2014. Philosophy and Blade Runner. New York: Palgrave MacMillan.

Singer, P. W. 2009. Wired for war: The robotics revolution and conflict in the 21st century. E-book, Penguin.

Sparrow, Robert. 2012. “Can machines be people? Reflections on the turning triage test.” Robot Ethics: The Ethical and Social Implications of Robotics, 301-316. Cambridge: MIT Press.

Winfield, Alan. 2012. Robotics - A Very Short Introduction. E-book, Oxford University Press.

Van den Hoven van Genderen, Robert. “Do We Need New Legal Personhood in the Age of Robots and AI?” Robotics, AI and the Future of Law, ed. Marcello Corrales, Mark Fenwick, Nicolaus Forgo, 15-55. Singapore: Springer.

Vest, Jason P. 2009. Future Imperfect: Philip K. Dick at the Movies. London: University of Nebraska Press.

Xie, Ming. 2003. Fundamentals of Robotics: Linking Perception to Action. Singapore: World Scientific Publishing Company.

Data publikacji: 2020-09-04 12:41:40
Data złożenia artykułu: 2020-02-04 17:37:04


Total abstract view - 167
Downloads (from 2020-06-17) - PDF - 0



  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2020 Katarzyna Ginszt

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.