All technology impacts our individual daily lives one way or another—but perhaps no technology makes us question our collective humanity as much as artificial intelligence.

Ray Kurzweil, inventor and futurist, spoke to an audience during a session last summer about a few of the political and philosophical implications of AI when he was asked, “In a world where AI passes the Turing test, who gets to vote? Does democracy make sense?”

Kurzweil describes a fictional scenario where an advanced AI sues for its rights as a citizen. While that alone may seem strange, the implications of granting rights to AI are even more bizarre. One major difference between living people and aware machines? The ability to count one human mind and individual person is easy. Not so much for interconnected, intelligent machines.

“In the world of computation in which an intelligence is just a process, you can run 100 processes on one computer or you can have a million computers that are one process,” Kurzweil says, “It’s very fluid—how are you going to count them? They don’t come in these discrete enclosures which are countable and you can keep track of them and say: ‘OK, you have voting rights; but you’re too young, you don’t have it.’”

How will our core ideas about ourselves and our world change in this context? Undoubtedly, our concepts about government and large-scale organizations will be forced to shift. And indeed, things have already begun to change significantly. Watch the rest of the video excerpt below to hear Kurzweil's whole reply.

Image Credit: 16:9clue/FlickrCC

Andrew operates as a media producer and archivist. Generating backups of critical cultural data, he has worked across various industries — entertainment, art, and technology — telling emerging stories via recording and distribution.