An issue that pops up from time to time in sci-fi – and will eventually pop up in real life – is when do artificially intelligent computers, genetically enhanced critters, possibly-sentient aliens get “human” rights? Many different answers have been given, but one I just read and quite liked was rather casually mentioned in the online webcomic “Quantum Vibe:”
“The rule is anyone who can understand what rights are and can both respect and demand them, has them.”
Robots that you can hold a conversation with probably aren’t that far away. But a robot that can look at the world, see how it’s being treated, and communicate a message equivalent to “hey, this ain’t right…” that will be a momentous occasion.