Edited by Mireille Hildebrandt and Kieron O’Hara
Chapter 13: In the hall of masks: Contrasting modes of personification
The European Parliament has recently proposed to grant robots the special legal status of electronic personhood to directly attribute them liability for damage they have caused. The proposal moves this idea from science fiction to possible legal reality. This chapter will reflect upon the underlying notion of personhood by exploring a variety of ways in which persons have been used as doubles for individuals: dramatic persons as masks on stage, juristic persons as fictions with effects, political persons unifying a multitude, average persons as statistical realities, profile persons as machine-generated group portraits, and digital persons as individual data portraits or smart agents. We will make a profile for each of these modes of personification to study the diverse ways persons have been given conceptual meaning and visual sense. This juxtaposition will put each type in contrast to find differences between their prominent attributes, pertaining to: the means by which they are composed, the actors wearing the masks (representors), what can be done with them (affordances), and the representative relation between person and subject. These contrasts can then in turn be used to judge the new entry of the electronic person in the existent hall of masks.
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