Volume 2, Issue 3
3rd Quarter, 2007

BINA48 Mock Trial: Judge's Decision

Professor Gene Natale

This article was adapted from a lecture given Gene Natale, J.D., Professor of Law, Keiser College, Melbourne, FL,  during the 2nd  Annual Colloquium on the Law of Transbeman Persons, December 10, 2006, at the Space Coast Office of Terasem Movement, Inc., Melbourne Beach, FL.

In a deft and thorough manner, Professor Gene Natale approaches what may be persuasive in setting a precedent in the complex and future rights of conscious computers in the field of enhanced, artificial intelligence.

Charlie Fairfax (Plaintiff)


BINA48 (Defendant)

Memorandum Decision

This is a motion made by the defendant, BINA48, to dismiss the complaint on the grounds that the defendant is not a “person”, as that term has been defined by statute and that for this reason the court can have neither personal jurisdiction over the defendant, nor subject matter jurisdiction of the action itself.
This mock action was commenced by the filing of a complaint in the Circuit Court of Tuscaloosa County, State of Alabama. The plaintiff, Charlie Fairfax is resident of Alabama, and claims that the cause of action accrued in the state of Alabama.

What is unusual about this case is that the defendant, BINA48, is claimed to be a “computer”. The issues surrounding the preliminary motion to dismiss revolve around whether this “computer” can be sued.

The Court sets the facts out at length herein since the unfolding of each of these details becomes essential to my determination. Special thanks and recognition is given to Mr. Will Rosellini, counsel for the plaintiff, for his brilliant work in creating and putting together the detail necessary to establish this dispute. The court also recognizes Ms. Susan Fonseca-Klein, counsel for the defendant, for her extremely talented ability demonstrated by the zealousness of her work and her representation of an otherwise quite “unique” client.

This Court also extends very special appreciation to Loraine Rhodes, CLA, for her invaluable assistance with providing crucial background materials relevant to the issues to be decided.

The facts in this case seem to unravel like a science fiction novel, taking us on a journey far into the future where so called “intelligent computers” are perceived by humans as being either mankind’s salvation or mankind’s destruction. Will we be able to adequately control such computers, or will our very “creations” destroy us? Will these creations be a “Mr. Hyde”, or a “HAL” [1] , or will they be more like an R2D2, or a “Sonny” who helped save mankind in I, Robot.

As mankind speeds along the highway of technological advancement, will we be able to safely manage those sharp curves in the roadway, or will we end up fatally crashing into that very concrete wall which we constructed to ensure our own safety? These are questions which are better left to future debate and future scientific novels, and upon which this court has no jurisdiction to speculate or to promulgate. However, this court, as fictional as it may currently be, is faced with what may very well become a true-to-life, real “controversy”, which a future court appears to most certainly be called upon to resolve.

Although this is a case of “first impression” [2], we have many historical precedents and guidelines upon which we can draw. We must settle our current disputes based upon what has gone before, and based upon the present issues which face us. In resolving those current issues, were we to project ourselves far into the distant future, would be a substantial injustice to future generations of mankind. However, were we to ignore the natural progression and development of society, would that likewise be a substantial injustice to our past generations? So, let us now embark upon this glorious adventure together, stopping from time to time to gaze, in wonder, upon the mysterious sites we encounter.

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1. HAL - (Heuristically programmed ALgorithmic computer) is a fictional character in Arthur C. Clark's Space Odyssey saga. The novels, along with two films, begin with 2001: A Space Odyssey, released in 1968. HAL is an artificial intelligence, the sentient on-board computer of the spaceship Discovery.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HAL_9000 August 2, 2007 4:28PM EST

2. First impression – New. A case or question is “of first impression” if it presents an entirely new problem to the court and cannot be decided by precedent. Daniel Oran. LAW Dictionary for Nonlawyers. Delmar: New York, 2000. 128.



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