On the Persistent Fallacy of Intentionless Speech

Lisa Siraganian at nonsite:

If Siri responded to your questions with QAnon conspiracy theories, would you want her answers to be legally protected? Would your verdict change if we labeled Siri’s answers either “computer generated” or “meaningful language?” Or as legal scholars Ronald Collins and David Skover ask in their recent monograph, Robotica: Speech Rights and Artificial Intelligence (2018), should the “constitutional conception of speech” be extended “to the semi-autonomous creation and delivery of robotic speech?”1 By “robotic speech,” they don’t mean some imagined language dreamed up in science fiction but the more ordinary phenomenon of “algorithmic output of computers”: the results of Google searches, instructions by GPS navigational devices, tweets by corporate bots, or responses by Amazon’s Alexa to a query about tomorrow’s weather. And by “the constitutional conception of speech” they are invoking the First Amendment’s fundamental prohibition declaring that “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press.” Collins and Skover deliver their verdict: the U.S. Constitution should recognize and protect so-called “robotic expression,” the computer-generated language of your iPhone or like devices.

more here.