Rights of Non-Human Persons
The Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies (IEET) is committed to the idea that some non-human animals meet the criteria of legal personhood and thus are deserving of specific rights and protections.

Mission Statement
Owing to advances in several fields, including the neurosciences, it is becoming increasingly obvious that the human species no longer can ignore the rights of non-human persons. A number of non-human animals, including the great apes, cetaceans (i.e. dolphins and whales), elephants, and parrots, exhibit characteristics and tendencies consistent with that of a person's traits like self-awareness, intentionality, creativity, symbolic communication, and many others. It is a moral and legal imperative that we now extend the protection of 'human rights' from our species to all beings with those characteristics.

The IEET, as a promoter of non-anthropocentric personhood ethics, defends the rights of non-human persons to live in liberty, free from undue confinement, slavery, torture, experimentation, and the threat of unnatural death. Further, the IEET defends the right of non-human persons to live freely in their natural habitats, and when that's not possible, to be given the best quality of life and welfare possible in captivity (such as sanctuaries).

Specifically, through the Rights of Non-Human Persons program, the IEET works to:
  • Investigate and refine definitions of personhood and those criteria sufficient for the recognition of non-human persons.
  • Facilitate and support further research in the neurosciences for the improved understanding and identification of those cognitive processes, functions and behaviors that give rise to personhood.
  • Educate and persuade the public on the matter, spread the word, and increase awareness of the idea that some animals are persons.
  • Produce evidence and fact-based argumentation in favor of non-human animal personhood to support the cause and other like-minded groups and individuals.

Program Director: Rights of Non-Human Persons

George Dvorsky
, who serves on the Board of Directors for the IEET and heads our Rights of Non-Human Persons program, is Canada's leading agenda-driven futurist/activist.

The suggestion that we confer human-level rights to non-human persons is an idea whose time has come.

IEET Rights of Non-Human Persons News

Non-Human PersonsRights of Non-Human Persons List - Discussion of issues relevant to the protection of rights for certain non-human beings.

Resources Below is a beginning set of resources for gaining background and learning more about issues of concern to the IEET's Rights of Non-Human Persons program.

Key Rights Links

Nonhuman Rights Project (Steven M. Wise)

The Great Ape Project

Animal Legal Defense Fund

International Marine Mammal Project for the Earth Island Institute

WSPA (World Society for the Protection of Animals)

PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals)


Animal Defenders International

Declaration for Rights of Cetaceans: Whales and Dolphins

Books (non-fiction)

Animal Liberation, Peter Singer (1975)

Primate Visions, Donna Haraway (1990)

Simians, Cyborgs and Women, Donna Haraway (1990)

The Great Ape Project, Paola Cavalieri and Peter Singer (1993)

Kanzi: The Ape at the Brink of the Human Mind, Sue Savage-Rumbaugh and Roger Lewin (1996)

The Origins of Language: What Nonhuman Primates Can Tell Us, Robbins Burling, Iain Davidson, Kathleen Gibson, and Stephen Jessee (1999)

Rattling the Cage, Steven M. Wise (2000)

Apes, Language, and the Human Mind, Sue Savage-Rumbaugh (2001)

Drawing the Line, Steven M. Wise (2002)

Minding Animals, Marc Bekoff (2002)

When Species Meet, Donna Haraway (2007)

Animals as Persons: Essays on the Abolition of Animal Exploitation, Gary L. Francione (2008)

Animal Bodies, Human Minds: Ape, Dolphin, and Parrot Language Skills, W.A. Hillix and Duane Rumbaugh (2010)

Animal Manifesto: Six Reasons for Expanding Our Compassion Footprint, Marc Bekoff (2010)

In Defense of Dolphins, Thomas I. White (2007)

Books (fiction)

The World of Ptavvs, Larry Niven (1966)

Uplift Saga, David Brin (1985-1997)

I, Rowboat, Cory Doctorow (2006)

Next, Michael Crichton (2007)

Personhood Media Episode #54 - Sebo on the Moral Problem of Other Minds
Apr 4- 2019

What is TRANSHUMANISM? Dr. Ferrando (NYU)
Dec 24- 2017

What does “POSTHUMAN” mean? Dr. Ferrando (NYU)
Dec 21- 2017

What Happens When We Design Babies?
Nov 20- 2017

What will humans look like in 100 years?
Dec 2- 2016

Robots Must Pay For Their Crimes!
Nov 18- 2016

Being Human In 100 Years
Oct 10- 2016

Neo - Official Teaser Trailer
Sep 26- 2016

Born Poor, Stay Poor: The Silent Caste System of America
Sep 26- 2016

Born Poor, Stay Poor: The Silent Caste System of America
Sep 15- 2016

The Ways That Technology Has Changed the Definition of Death
Sep 13- 2016

Robots Must Pay For Their Crimes!
Aug 16- 2016

Increase Your Productivity by Mastering Singular Focus and Mindful Meditation
Aug 12- 2016

Karen Levy on the Rise of Intimate Surveillance
Aug 10- 2016

The Future of Human-Machine Relationships, HER Movie Review
Aug 6- 2016

Algorithms and Online Dating Won’t Change Your Ancient Brain
Aug 4- 2016

How To Make A Living When Robots Take Our Jobs
Aug 3- 2016

Self-Awareness Is Essential in Comedy and in Life
Jul 25- 2016

Transhumanism for the Mind: Enlightenment for the Future of Humanity
Jul 20- 2016

Could the Solution to the World’s Biggest Problems Be…a Park?
Jul 16- 2016

Personhood Articles
Heather Bradshaw
Morphological Freedom by Heather Bradshaw

In 2003, the idea that one might have a freedom to change one’s body and brain as one liked was being discussed in relation to the Transhumanist FAQ. This idea receives much less attention in the current FAQ, where it is largely replaced by a lesser freedom to enhance. This is interesting, because morphological freedom has significant implications.

Jamais Cascio
I Can Has Singularity? by Jamais Cascio

IBM’s new cat brain simulation is both more—and less—than it seems.

Mike Treder
Six insane laws we’ll need in the future. Or not. by Mike Treder

As crazy as it may sound, one of the best articles I’ve seen in a long time about the ethics of emerging technologies comes from the pages of Cracked magazine.

Mike Treder
Memory and Insanity by Mike Treder

How much do we need to remember about our past to be considered sane? If we remembered too much, would that drive us crazy?

Slim Majority of IEET Readers Want Life Recording

Slightly more than half of respondents to a recently concluded IEET poll said, “Yes,” they would like to have a recording of their whole life. About a third said, “No, thanks,” and 12% were not sure.

Mike Treder
Life-recording: Are you game? by Mike Treder

Assuming the technology was robust, reliable, non-intrusive, and affordable—would you want to record your whole life?

Mike Treder
LORCs of High Coolness by Mike Treder

In this week’s episode of LORCs (Links Of Required Clicking), we’re going to focus on items with a very high coolness quotient.

Mike Treder
LORCS Abound by Mike Treder

Continuing our extraordinarily popular series of LORCs (Links Of Required Clicking), we’re back again with a new quartet of links that you simply must click.

Mike Treder
The Meaning of Freedom by Mike Treder

Freedom stands for something greater than just the right to act however I choose—it also stands for securing to everyone an equal opportunity for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Mike Treder
Artificial Friends by Mike Treder

DI/DO (Drop In, Drop Out) connotes a lifestyle consisting almost entirely of online activity, but in place of a focus on interaction with actual friends and family, the vast majority of time is spent engaging with artificial digital companions.

Mike Treder
Are you a vegan, a vegetarian, or an omnivore? by Mike Treder

That’s the question we’re asking in our current IEET reader poll.

Mike Treder
Uncanny Robotic Dexterity by Mike Treder

Robots are making remarkable progress, mechanically, but until they can be connected with a smart animal level artificial brain, they won’t be anything close to really revolutionary.

Kyle Munkittrick
District 9 Rocks! by Kyle Munkittrick

District 9 is one of those films that, when you examine it in pieces, it doesn’t seem that amazing. If you were to ask me about any specific piece of the film: the action, the cinematography, the effects, the acting, the writing, etc. I would say that it might fall in the “good” or “pretty good” category. As a whole, however, the film manages to constantly combine those “good” elements into great scenes and chains so many great scenes together that a truly wonderful and unique story results.

No Consensus on Cloning Neanderthals

IEET readers are split on the question of whether we should seek to clone our Neanderthal cousins. In a recently concluded poll, 47% of respondents say No and only 38% say Yes while 8% can’t decide.

Martine Rothblatt
Can Consciousness be Created in Software? by Martine Rothblatt

“Some men see things as they are and wonder why.  Others dream things that never were and ask why not?” Robert F. Kennedy

Mike Treder
Cloning Neanderthals by Mike Treder

Neanderthals are the closest evolutionary cousins to modern humans. We shared the planet with them until about 30,000 years ago when we probably killed them off. Now, as genetic and cloning technologies continue to advance rapidly, we are gaining the ability to actually bring back the Neanderthals—to resurrect them as it were. Should we?

Ben Scarlato
True Blood and Personhood by Ben Scarlato

[Contains spoilers.] How far does personhood and the rights associated with it reach across species? True Blood gives us an intelligent exploration of some aspects of this issue, specifically when that other species is perceived as dangerous, cruel, unnatural, and unholy. Unfortunately though, too often even those who support vampire rights refer to them as not being persons, instead emphasizing that they are essentially human or that vampires are a second species deserving of rights. A much more adaptable framework of rights could be built ...

Mike Treder
The Difficult Questions of ‘Personhood’ by Mike Treder

Every human is a person, right? And anyone we call a person must be a human, correct? Well, no, not necessarily.

Mike Treder
Toward a Technoprogressive Manifesto by Mike Treder

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Ben Scarlato
Terminator: Salvation and the Sarah Connor Chronicles by Ben Scarlato

[Contains spoilers.] Overall, although Terminator: Salvation was a well produced and enjoyable movie, it wasn’t particularly deep. I was at least hoping for a more interesting exploration of Marcus Wright’s identity and the meaning he found in his existence after discovering he was the first genuine cross between a human and a machine, but even that was handled predictably. The movie evaded any of the complexity that the recently canceled Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles television series had been beginning to develop.