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Blog: Medium Follow Friday: Personhood


What is a person? Why does it matter?

Photo by Timon Studler on Unsplash

I decided that for this week, the topic of discussion should be personhood. This topic can cover a lot of different questions and commentaries. Heavily entranced in philosophy, there’s a lot of psychological and ethical narrative involved. Articles included cover a wide range of subtopics, from general thoughts on intelligence to the ethicality of eating certain organisms.

Right now, we assume that we’re the only species of people. In part because we’re going based off of our own way of thinking and acting, it’s hard to even know whether there are any other people in the world. There are a few species that I do think might constitute people.

Even if there aren’t, one day we’re likely to come into contact with other people. They’ll either be aliens, or they might be our own creations through the development of true artificial intelligence.

Personhood is a complicated topic, but for this week I dove into the question and thought of what I thought reasonably constituted a person.

I’m sure a lot of individuals have different views of the concept, so here’s a list of other articles on the topic. I honestly had a little bit more trouble finding newer authors for these types of topics, but there are some gems hidden on Medium.


The Ecological Problem with Octopus Farming, Ritoban Mukherjee, and the associated discussions, got me thinking about the topic a little bit more, and that’s why I decided to write this week’s article on personhood. I was torn between fully including the article, like I do with other articles in Follow Friday, but the fact that the author does not respond to comments, doesn’t have a subscription, and doesn’t seem to actually support Medium, make me decide to write this critical comment instead.

A common theme is that people are very animal focused. Some view eating and using animals as inherently unethical, regardless of the animal in question, but exclude plants and other organisms from the discussion. I question whether this distinction is valid.


Artificial Intelligence is a hot topic when it comes to personhood. When does an AI become a person? Medium has some publications dedicated to that topic. One of the publications I found while researching for this FF post was Becoming Human.

Honestly, a lot of the material in the publication is more just data science and machine learning how-to articles, but there are some gems. Tommaso Demarie’s article on efference copying is an interesting discussion of biological learning phenomena and how it can be applied to artificial intelligence.


Mark Starlin decided to take a jab, both at artificial intelligence, and Facebook, in a recent short fiction work. It’s funny, but a little sad too. It is a good warning not to give too much of the decision making process to robots. Then again, should anyone have too much power in the decision making process?

Still, I wonder why people are so worried about robots taking over. Why is it so terrifying? Even if it happens, so what? These beings would be our children, and so even if we die out, our children will survive.


Maybe this article doesn’t need much curation, but it still fits the theme pretty well, and it’s an interesting article that provides a fair amount of citations. Brenden Weber does a good job of discussing personhood from the point of view of consciousness.


Source: Artificial Intelligence on Medium

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