Volume 2, Issue 3
3rd Quarter, 2007

BINA48 Mock Trial: Judge's Decision

Professor Gene Natale

Page 3 of 5

Prior Proceedings involving BINA48:
In BINA48 v. Exabit Corp., (California, 2003.), in  mock action involving a so called “intelligent computer” as a party plaintiff (in fact the same BINA48 which is the defendant in this case), the California trial court refused to recognize that such a “computer” could sustain a lawsuit against it’s own manufacturer. In denying BINA48 a preliminary injunction and in dismissing the case, the court stated:

      “ . . . I . . .deny the injunction, because I do not think that standing was in fact created by the legislature. . . and I doubt very much that [a] court has that authority in the absence of the legislature.” (Hon. Joseph P. McMenamin).

The California Supreme Court denied the “computer’s” appeal.

In BINA48 v. Exabit Corp., (M.D. Fla, 2005.) in a second mock action commenced by the same, so-called “intelligent computer”, the two judge en banc [1] federal district court was split on the issue of recognizing BINA48’s right to bring a lawsuit.

Justice Silverman stated:

  “ … unless an until there is a change in the consciousness of flesh and blood voting people, sufficient to cause our laws to embrace the concept of machines with human consciousness, the proponents cannot expect reasonably, vindication in the courtroom.”
(Hon. David E. Silverman).

Justice Anthony Dutton disagreed with his judicial colleague on that esteemed bench.


Each counsel understandably narrows their argument to the jurisdictional issues of standing, since those are the specific subjects of the motion.  However, this court is not so confined, and has the inherent power (and the obligation) to go beyond the claims and contentions of the parties, in order to afford the parties complete and substantial justice. To simply dismiss the case will certainly deny Mr. Fairfax possibly the only remedy he may have. To simply sustain the case may be contrary to the ultimate interests of BINA48.

Although the claim of Mr. Fairfax is couched in contract, a liberal reading of the papers filed demonstrate possible claims for quasi-contract, theft, conversion, fraud, deceit, or even breach of fiduciary duties. Although the defense of BINA48 is couched in jurisdictional terms, a careful review of the entire history and facts reveal an entity “striking back” at our system of justice from what may have been perceived by her to have been a substantial “injustice” previously thrust upon her by that system.

It may be said that “Hell hath no fury as a woman scorned”, however what this case demonstrates is “Hell hath no fury as a ‘conscious computer’ twice scorned”.

We really should not be surprised with having to confront a dispute such as the one at hand. What may be surprising is that we are facing it this early in our technological evolution.

Can machines think? It was not too long ago, that in order to replace that then emotionally charged question, Professor Al Turing [2], in his 1950 paper, “Computing Machinery and Intelligence”, proposed a “test” to determine a machine’s capability to perform human-like conversation. In what became known as the “Turing Test”, a human judge engages in natural conversation with two other parties, one human and the other a machine; if the judge cannot reliably tell which is which, then the machine is said to pass the test.

Professor Turing also predicted that in the not too distant future, machines would be capable of “learning” as well. In 1985, “student lawyer” Robert A. Freitas Jr. presented us with a very amusing paper entitled “The Legal Rights of Robots”.[3]

He predicts that by 2020 most homes will offer a “low-cost domestic robot option “. Freitas points to other futurists, such as science-fiction writer Isaac Asimov’s classic Three Laws of Robotics [4]. Freitas also introduces us to Richard Laing, a former computer scientist at the University of Michigan, who “contemplated” a day when human-level intelligent machines exhibit complex behaviors. In the matter of Wells v. U.S. (16 Av.Cas.17914 [W.D. Wash. 1981], the court inferred pilot error when switching from automatic pilot to manual control in a crisis situation, thereby recognizing “robot judgment” as superior to human judgment.

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1. En banc – (French – “in bench”) – “Bench”; place where the judges hear cases. A court “sitting in banc” (or en banc”) is a session of all judges together.
 Daniel Oran. LAW Dictionary for Nonlawyers. Delmar: New York, 2000. 32.

2. Alan Mathison Turing, FRS, OBE (June 23, 1912 –June 7,1954) was an English mathematician, logician, and cryptographer.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alan_Turing   August 3, 2007 11:00AM EST

3. The Legal Rights of Robots Can the wheels of justice turn for our friends in the mechanical kingdom? Don't laugh.http://www.rfreitas.com/Astro/LegalRightsOfRobots.htm   August 3, 2007 11:11 EST

4. Three Laws of Robotics - a set of three rules written by Isaac Asimov, which almost all positronic robotics appearing in his fiction must obey.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three_Laws_of_Robotics  August 3, 2007 11:27AM EST


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