The idea of “legal personhood” existed in America originally to promote the work of the country’s first corporations: banks, insurance companies, water companies, and transportation companies. At the time, these corporations were viewed as providing essential public services. They needed to have some of the rights and responsibilities of real people to provide those services.
I wouldn’t disagree that we’ve gone too far in considering corporations people under the law. But the initial reasoning for corporate legal personhood—treat them as legal persons so they can be beneficial—is still sound. The reasoning is also sound for robots.
Read more by John Frank Weaver on Slate