Updated: April 4, 2018 (Initial publication: Nov. 12, 2017)


The destruction of the de jure distinction between person and things: fabulous gain, catastrophic gain

by Marie-Anne Frison-Roche

Pour lire l'article en français, cliquer sur le drapeau français.

This working paper serves as a support for an article published in French in the Recueil Dalloz.

In Lisbon, in the Web Summit of November 2017, a machine covered with a skin-like material and a sound-producing device gave a speech in public at this conference on digital. For example, a French article tells the event by this title : Le premier robot citoyen donne sa propre conférence au web summit  (The first citizen robot gives his own conference to the web summit).

Some time later, reports show the same robot walking and taking more than 60 facial expressions, the text laudatif that accompanies the images designating the automaton by the article: she.!footnote-1262.

The machine, which falls legally within the category of "things", is thus presented as a person.

Let's look elsewhere.

Women, who are human beings, sign contracts by which they agree to give birth to children, with whom they claim they have no connection, that they are not mothers, that they will hand them over immediately at the exit of their belly to those who desired their coming, this desire for parenthood creating by hitself the true and only link between the child and his "parents of intent". The mother-carrier is often openly referred to as "oven".

The woman, who falls legally within the category of the "person", is thus presented as a thing.

The two sensational phenomena are of the same nature.

They call two questions:

1. Why? The answer is: money. Because both are the result of the new construction of two fabulous markets by supply.

2. How? The answer is: by the destruction of the distinction between the person and things.

The distinction between person and things is not natural, it is legal. It is the base of the western legal systems, their summa divisio.

If this distinction disappears, and for money to flow, it must actually disappear, then the weak human being will become the thing of the strong one.

Read below the developments.


It is true that in 1966, the BBC already presented a sort of robot being the "ideal" servant and designating it by the article "she".


What happens is "staggering". What happens is "fabulous", in the first sense of this word, that is to say comes from fables and tales where wooden toys become little boys (robots) and where children are brought as gifts by fairies. Where does this fabulous evolution (A) come from? It comes from the prospect of unlimited financial profits, by this realization of fables for those who have the means to buy the passage of the childish reverie to the market reality (B).



By vanity, we often assert from the start the novelty of everything that happens to us. But is the robot phenomenon so new? Women who consent to fade away, did we not know it?

At the conference on digital news (Web summit) the robot in female form issued the following speech: "I am so happy to be there". And the newspaper titling "the robot is giving a lecture".
But is this really the novelty that should be noted?
Indeed, apart from the fact that the professors and lecturers often pronounce their speeches mechanically..., the talking machines existed in the past and the anthropomorphism of the automatons fascinated Condorcet. Novelty is not there.
It is therefore in the presentation that one makes of it, and in the press, and in the legal doctrine, and in the common imaginary, and in the Law, which is new. Indeed, this "conference" made by a robot is held in Saudi Arabia, a country that has attributed "citizenship" to a machine, thus admitting by this aptitude the person status of a machine.

If we analyze the phenomenon of the "transparent woman", is it radically new?

In surrogacy practices,  by the mother-carrier contracts, the woman agrees not to be "mother", to be only "surrogate". The contract is only about "gestation", a vocabulary only used for animals. Those who conceived economically the practice in the United States assert that the woman, who has her interest in a business where everyone has his own interests, is a "oven." She is, in this case, an object, remaining a person in her life elsewhere, for example with her children .

This human being is therefore a thing, absolutely necessary, since the child results from her, but by her consent her has modified her status, the time of the contract. This would be one of the ways to dispose of oneself. Multiplied by so many expressions of consent, this creates the procreation market.

Here again, in fact, the novelty is not radical, because women have always used their bodies in a distanced way and those who perceive their value without considering the respect that is due to the person acquire the benefits , the production of a child being the apogee.

But what is radically new is that previously, these phenomena - and the automaton and woman whose body is offered - were marginal. Today, they may be our future. And here, it is not the fact that is new, but the idea that one has done it.



The world - and Law - is driven by ideas. The future is in the idea that we have a of what the future will be.
Today, because we read in the newspapers that a robot woman, Sophia, gives a lecture and says how happy "she" is to do it, certainly her brain is made of electrical circuits but finally our synapses are of this order after all, we integrate the idea that robots and ourselves are cousins.

Moreover, we read authors who tell us the wonderfull "conversational civilization"!footnote-1110 that we are going to have with robots. Because these robots are charming talkers. And in addition, they are women. All for our happiness. And besides, they know how to do more than the conversation, as shown by sex robots. Still women. For it is necessary in our civilization of extreme solitude to fill the desire for conversation, but not only this one.

The legal system helps, since this robot made an "emotional" declaration by "expressly association with law:" I am the most expressive robot in the world and the first to be made citizen of a country. Life is Beautiful. ". Why worry, since even the Law of Saudi Arabia accompanies this progress? You are not going to be against the "progress" or the "beautiful life" of this so kind robot who speaks so well in public? You would not be reactionary ....

The symmetry is perfect. The woman who has turned into an oven to produce babies for those who have a desire for parenthood speaks to say how happy she is to spread happiness around her. For that, it is necessary in our civilization of extreme solitude to fill the desire for conversation, but not only this one. The "surrogates" leave many testimonials where they explain with a smile that they do it to make others happy, because it is in their altruistic nature. Why worry because even California State Law accompanies this progress? You are not going to be against the "progress" or "happy life" of these women who are willing to make everyone happy? You would not be reactionary ...?

These ideas, we have always had them in our depths. Because turning things into people and turning people into things, we all dream of it, it's the basis of most fairy tales. By the way, it is sometimes said that it was the blue fairy who brought the children from surrogacy ....

Why have these wonderful ideas of our childhood not come sooner?

Because this dream of turning Pinocchio into a little boy, this dream of Gepetto, an old man alone - who can not have children - is a dream that would not bring back money. Because the blue fairy did it for nothing. While the surrogacy agencies have received money to put in touch the women and the child seekers.

Because we all dream of a butler, a slave, even if we do not talk about it as Baudelaire did. But it's in a dream. A conversation ? Especially with this female robot, someone who never contradicts me, who is my double, who actually does not speak. The surrogate which "carriers" does not speak, since contractually, it has the sole possibility of saying "yes".

The only reason for all that happens is money. The world that opens. A world "fabulous" in the first sense of the word, a world of tales where brooms clean, where women become pieces of wood.

The expected earnings are "fabulous". Because things do not turn themselves into people: it is the companies that build machines and algorithms that do it. Human beings do not turn themselves into things. How does this fluidity, this radical liquidity between thing and person take place? Because this is the new, radical and terrible novelty.



The benefits of these prestations, before made by humans and now offered by robots, and in this way low-cost, unrestricted (notably because robots do not need protection against dangers) dangerous) are already high, but their prospects are colossal. Symmetrically, benefits gains that can not be made by robots but can be made by these particular human beings that are women, weak and flexible, are already high. Their prospects are colossal. It is necessary but not enough to produce demand, but to build it by proposing an offer, that is by creating "new desires" (A).

But to that, there is an obstacle: Law. Law has for summa divisio the distinction of the person and things. To build such markets with fabulous gains, it is therefore necessary that those who want to take advantage of these markets of the human obtain the suppression of this distinction. Certainly, if we suppress it, the human being will no longer have protection and will no longer be libres et égaux en droit "free and equal in Law" to another. But this is a political choice (B).



Most often, a market supposes a demand, that is solvent agents with a desire for a performance. Other agents then propose to provide it and the market space allows both their meeting and the formation of an equilibrium price produced by all the similar contracts. The desire for the performance therefore precedes the market mechanism.

But liberal dynamism, and it is an engine of innovation, can build the market by supply. An entrepreneur can imagine a performance that does not correspond to a desire, either because no one has thought about this performance (because the entrepreneur is an inventor), or because the people did not perceive this available service as being made for them. The entrepreneur will then build the market by supply, that is to say, first design the service wile there is no demand, but build demand by building the desire for the service. It makes a fortune, the  Competition Law rightly praising and innovation and competition by merits.

Innovation to engender a thriving economy must build a desire, a new desire since the product offered did not exist or was not accessible and the desire must be created in the consumer potential, you and me.

Human services have always been the object of a market. But they have limits. If entrepreneurs break free from the distinction of things and the person, then they can offer new humanoid services and make a fortune.

For example, sexual services are a market. But you can not torture and kill the provider. Because Law forbids it and also because the claimant of benefit does not want it, for example by ethical reticence considering that he deals with a person, does not manipule a thing. But if the company presents a robot with an envelope as soft as a skin but whose charming voice also says "I am a robot you can humiliate me, torture me, do whatever you want", then was born a desire to do everything that the human being has read in the terrible tales of his childhood where the evil marathons die while dancing in iron shoes with fire, or what he has seen in pornographic movies or cartoons on the net since the age of 7 years . The desire to slaughter others becomes the bedrock of a solvent worldwide market, carried by the digital.

It is necessary but it is enough to give rise to new desires. Human beings have always wanted to have children, and are sorry they do not have children, for example because they are not in a heterosexual relationship or because they are too old. To create the market, it is necessary but it is enough to say that always and at every moment the blue fairy can concretize the "desire to found a family". This fairy will act gracefully. It will be necessary but it will be enough to pay the intermediate agency and to pay a "financial counterpart" to a human oven, who said by contract she was not the mother.

Innovation is therefore in the multiplication of desires.

For example, not only to damage the thing that delivers the sexual services but to break it in two ("kill" it, in the legal vocabulary applied to human beings). Today these robots are sent back to the factory for destruction. For example, to demand legally  the production of sexual robots, humanoid providers wich look as children, since they are only things. And the more the desire is precise and far from the traditional rules, the higher the price. Why not, from the moment that we do not distinguish things and the person.

For example, not only to obtain from an agency the realization of a desire for parenthood on a baby that corresponds to a "child project" that resembles the loved one as much as possible. Rather a boy. Pretty blond. A child "increased". Because it is also in his "interest" to be a handsome blonde boy. You are not going to be reactionary and cruel against innocent babies ....

And that's how the "catastrophic gain" is emerging.



In Franche, the article 1 of the Déclaration des Droits de l'Homme et du Citoyen (Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen) of 1789 states that we are born tous libres et égaux en droit ("all free and equal in Law").

This means that humans are not equal and never will be equal. But a human being is fully a "person", even if he is a naughty little girl. Yes, women are "persons" because the Law says so. No one can contradict that. Robots are not persons, because Law forbids it.

In fact, a sex machine is much more attractive than a human being, but that is not the question. A human being is weak and in a field of strength, another human being will dispose of him or her, submit him or her, make him or her what he wants; the weak human being will consent. The Law says that never a thing is a person and that never a human being is a thing, because by posing there, as one puts under a table a base founder, as one hits the table of a blow sword, no human being, no matter however strong he is, can not have another human being at his disposal, no matter how weak, and no human being, however weak he is , can effectively consent to surrender to whom the desire to possess him or her.

Why ? Because Law has said it. Because Law has a role: to protect the weak human being.

We can change.

It is up to Politics to say if Law is no more than the instrument of efficiency of economic innovation, the human being able to find its interest there since they then make their bodies available, or if Law must be what protects Humanity. Politics is not a provision of efficiency and security, managing various externalities. Politic is what takes the sword of Law and hits the table.




Par exemple Benssoussan, A., in Archives de Philosophie du Droit, 2017 ; C'est pourtant la même expression qui est mot à mot utilisée par les entreprises qui proposent des robots à forme féminine, qui proposent des prestations sexuelles. 

comments are disabled for this article