Washington Journal of Law, Technology & Arts


On February 8, 2022, the Italian Parliament approved constitutional amendments to protect the environment. A member of Parliament stated that the environment is an element of Italy, and that safeguarding the environment means safeguarding humans. The need to protect the environment seems to have become a critical component of public conscience. Likewise, if society perceives that artificial intelligence is vitally important for humanity, does constitutional law allow constitutional rights for artificial intelligence to be created?

Extending constitutional rights to artificial intelligence may be consistent with the jurisprudential history of rights. Constitutional rights have undergone metamorphosis over time to protect new subjects and create new rights. For example, in 1994, the United States Supreme Court extended free speech rights under the First Amendment to cable operators because they were new actors that emerged with the development of cable technology. Artificial intelligence is also a new actor that emerged with the advent of digital technology.

What could be the justifications for the constitutional protection of artificial intelligence? Both the decision of the Conseil Constitutionnel of France of June 18, 2020, and the opinion of the United States Supreme Court in Packingham v. North Carolina suggest a reasoning based on necessity. When certain artificial intelligence is indispensable for preventing the violation of existing constitutional rights, this need may provide a justification for protecting the existence of such artificial intelligence through constitutional rights. Attaining pleasures of benevolence under Jeremy Bentham’s philosophy could be another justification for conferring constitutional rights to artificial intelligence. This justification, however, invokes questions on what happiness of artificial intelligence might mean, prompting a reconsideration of the criterion of the utility calculus. Meanwhile, justifications for conferring constitutional free speech rights to artificial intelligence include the pursuit of truth and the facilitation of the technology’s characteristic activity that contributes to humanity.