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)

Greenpeace

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
John G. Messerly
Epictetus: What Can We Control? by John G. Messerly

Epictetus (c. 55 – 135 CE) was born as a slave in the Roman Empire, but obtained his freedom as a teenager. He studied Stoic philosophy from an early age, eventually lecturing on Stoicism in Rome. He was forced to leave the city in 89 CE, after the Emperor Domitian banished philosophers from Italy. He then established his own school at Nicopolis on the Adriatic coast in Greece, where he taught and lectured until he died around 135. Today he is regarded as one of the preeminent Stoic philosophers.

Khannea Suntzu
Basic Income is certain, but ‘they’ will wait as long as they can to implement it. by Khannea Suntzu

Looking at the barrage of news on technological unemployment, we may get lucky and avoid the predictable denialism phase altogether. A lot of time gets wasted on denying things that are inescapable. We may get lucky, as in “we might avoid a massively disfunctional dystopian future full of mass-poverty and the consequences thereof“.

George Dvorsky
New Evidence Suggests Human Beings Are a Geological Force of Nature by George Dvorsky

For years, the term “Anthropocene” has been used to informally describe the human era on Earth. But new evidence suggests there’s nothing informal about it. We’re a true force of nature — and there’s good reason to believe we’ve sparked a new and unprecedented geological epoch.

Roland Benedikter
Transhumanismus: Der neue Politiktrend? by Roland Benedikter

Das humanistische Menschenbild prägte die Entwicklung westlicher Gesellschaften. Doch inzwischen ist der Transhumanismus auf dem Vormarsch. Vertreter dieser neuen ideologischen Strömung beraten westliche Regierungen, Firmen und Entscheidungsträger. Sie streben eine Cyborgisierung des Menschen an. Doch was sind die politischen Folgen?

Margaret Morris
Becoming the First Transhuman: A Call For The Right Stuff by Margaret Morris

Who will officially be the first transhuman? Will it be you? Why wait decades? This article explains one approach to speeding up the process and also the challenge involved.

Defining the Object of the Goal:

Gareth John
What is the very first question true AGI will ask? by Gareth John

I love my sic-fi.  Reading, watching, listening - I can’t get enough of it. Having said that, there’s far more out there unread, unwatched, and unheard of by me than I’ve had the opportunity to chance upon or get around to.

Anthony Miccoli
The Droids We’re Looking For by Anthony Miccoli

I’ve been a fan of Cynthia Breazeal for well over a decade, and have watched her research evolve from her early doctoral work with Kismet, to her current work as the creator of JIBO and the founder of JIBO, inc. What I found so interesting about Dr. Breazeal was her commitment to creating not just artificial intelligence, but a robot which people could interact with in a fashion similar to human beings, but not exactly like human beings. 

Daniel Faggella
Will Cyborgs Rule the World? by Daniel Faggella

Thanks to movies like Terminator, Universal Soldier and Blade Runner, the popular image of a cyborg is that of a futuristic, evil killing machine. The reality, however, is quite different, says Dr. Chris Hables Gray, a cyborg expert and professor at the  University of California at Santa Cruz. In fact, he says cyborgs are everywhere; technically speaking, anyone who’s had a vaccination can be considered a cyborg.

Valerie Tarico
Survival of Extremely Premature Infants Opens New Ethical Decisions by Valerie Tarico

Changes in what we can do always lead to new questions about what we should do—questions about what is prudent or loving or wise, about what serves human well-being or even that of the broader web of life. Recent medical advances around resuscitation and life support for extremely premature infants are no exception, and new options have opened a set of difficult conversations that many would rather avoid.

Kate Darling
Extending Legal Protection to Social Robots by Kate Darling

“Why do you cry, Gloria? Robbie was only a machine, just a nasty old machine. He wasn’t alive at all.”

“He was not no machine!” screamed Gloria fiercely and ungrammatically. “He was a person like you and me and he was my friend.”

– Isaac Asimov (1950)

Eliott Edge
#2: Why it matters that you realize you’re in a computer simulation by Eliott Edge

According to IEET readers, what were the most stimulating stories of 2015? This month we’re answering that question by posting a countdown of the top 30 articles published this year on our blog (out of more than 1,000), based on how many total hits each one received.

The following piece was first published here on November 14, 2015,  and is the #2 most viewed of the year.

Rick Searle
Religion and Violence by Rick Searle

Sometimes, I get the uneasy feeling that the New Atheists might be right after all. Perhaps there is something latently violent in the religious imagination, some feature, or tendency, encouraged by religion that the world would better be without.

Kate Darling
Children Beating Up Robot Inspires New Escape Maneuver System by Kate Darling

A few years ago, the curious folks at the Radiolab show/podcast asked some kids to hold a Barbie doll, a live hamster, and a Furby robot upside down.  Not surprisingly, the children were unfazed by the Barbie, holding it on its head for a long time. When it was the hamster’s turn, the kids were quick to release the squirming animal, for fear that they were hurting it (no surprise here either).

Gareth John
Don’t Know Mind: Zen and the Art of AGI Indecision by Gareth John

By now I’ve clocked up a relatively comprehensive slew of reading up on Artificial General Intelligence, in particular concerning its ethical implications. Still mostly in the dark when it comes to any of the difficulties and scientific quandaries that go into creating such a machine, I am at least at a level of understanding whereby I can begin to tease out for myself some of the wider implications AGI would present for humankind.

B. J. Murphy
#22: Time to Start Looking at ‘Cyborg’ as a Gender Identity by B. J. Murphy

According to IEET readers, what were the most stimulating stories of 2015? This month we’re answering that question by posting a countdown of the top 30 articles published this year on our blog (out of more than 1,000), based on how many total hits each one received.

The following piece was first published here on January 28, 2015, and is the #22 most viewed of the year.

Roland Benedikter
#23: The Age of Transhumanist Politics Has Begun: Will It Change the Concepts of Left and Right? by Roland Benedikter

According to IEET readers, what were the most stimulating stories of 2015? This month we’re answering that question by posting a countdown of the top 30 articles published this year on our blog (out of more than 1,000), based on how many total hits each one received.

The following piece was first published here on April 27, 2015, and is the #23 most viewed of the year.

Daryl Wennemann
#28: Posthumanisms: A Carnapian Experiment by Daryl Wennemann

According to IEET readers, what were the most stimulating stories of 2015? This month we’re answering that question by posting a countdown of the top 30 articles published this year on our blog (out of more than 1,000), based on how many total hits each one received.

The following piece was first published here on March 19, 2015, and is the #28 most viewed of the year.

Stefan Morrone
How Games of Thrones Teaches Us About the Syrian Refugee Crisis by Stefan Morrone

Fans of Game of Thrones were treated to a big piece of news last week. As audiences know, the fan-favorite character Jon Snow was left to die at the hands of his Night’s Watch Brothers at the end of the previous season.  Yesterday, a poster was revealed showing a bloodied image of the character.

B. J. Murphy
Star Trek Philosophy: “We Were Like You Once, But We Evolved” by B. J. Murphy

The following dialogue below took place on Star Trek: Enterprise, on episode 18, season 2, titled “The Crossing.” It was between members of the Enterprise crew (Captain Archer, Commander T’Pol, and Lieutenant Reed) and a non-corporeal alien entity known as the Wisp, of which they discuss the Wisp’s past biological existence and how they evolved into a non-corporeal species.

Gareth John
What About Me? by Gareth John

As a technoprogressive it’s my desire to see that everyone benefits from emerging technologies with regard the rapidly approaching transhumanist future. To this end I’m trying to do what little I can to further and support technoprogressive aims and ideals. This does however beg the ques-tion: what about me?