From the Law Offices of Meany, Tekel, O'Parson, and McGee.
Dear Mr. Pete:
We've received, and decided to accept, your request that we represent the preserved upload of Mr. Phillips in the case Phillips v. McIntyre. As you are doubtless aware, this will not be an easy case, and I do not want to set your expectations for a simplistic win. While the presentation from your company's lawyer gave an excellent review of the current questions, there is case law that may become relevant.
Unfortunately, recent jurisprudence regarding artificial intelligence does not help us. As you may be aware, in the recent case A1-C3 v IBM (870 U.S. 224 (2024)), the Supreme Court has decided that artificial intelligences are not people in any Constitutional or legal sense. A1's loss was a disappointment, but we feel that there is sufficient grounds here to make a clear distinction between artificial intelligences and uploaded human intelligences.
It is fortunate that you were able to persuade the judge to block Mrs. McIntyre's initial attempt to seize her father's assets in probate court. Unfortunately, as the law stands now, she has the law on her side: Mr. Phillips's body is dead by any applicable legal definition, and his will is quite clear that his daughter is to receive his estate upon his demise.
Now on to the specifics of the case:
There is currently no case law or statutory law that will aid Mr. Phillips. This is unfortunate: it means that we will have to persuade the judges to agree that the legal definitions of "living" and "dead" are no longer applicable to deal with cases like this.
There is little in the way of public support. If there is a "fault" here, some of this could be considered the fault of your company. Yes, the secrecy in which you did your research was necessary, as the public outcry that occurred when Mr. Phillips' situation became public demonstrates, but that also means that since you chose not to publicize, you lost any chance to build public support for your position. This was an opportunity lost, but we realize you made what you felt to be the best decision for your patients and their families.
There are, however, some positive developments. The introduction of the "Artificial Person's Act" in the Senate has widespread public support, and we feel that we may be able to expand that support to cover Mr. Phillips, and future patients in his situation. A1's public popularity has only increased with its recent court loss, and his willingness to stage a social media event with Mr. Phillips last year made for positive association between the two in the public eye.
The APA will not be approved and signed in time for Mr. Phillips' case, so we have to act now. Our strategy will be simply to have the court recognize Mr. Phillips's uploaded recording as a prosthetic for his physical brain. The development of artificial organs, and the recognition of those who continue to be active and productive citizens while having no physical heart, liver, or kidneys, provides the legal basis for doing so. We realize that your previous press releases made a distinction between a brain upload and the Jarvik line of artificial hearts--we ask you to de-emphasize that distinction in future press releases.
The biggest obstacle to overcome is the current legal definitions of death. As I noted before, Mr. Phillips's body is dead by any legal definition: his heart has stopped, his brain activity has stopped, which is sufficient grounds in all US states to declare him deceased. The fact that his mind continues to operate--though now it operates inside a machine, rather than inside a physical body--is our only chance to argue for his continued life.
In short, Mr. Pete, we have a difficult task in front of us. While we remain optimistic that we can, and will, prevail for your client, we do not want to set your expectations that this will be anything but an uphill struggle. We remain cautiously optimistic, but have an eye to the difficulties that this will present.
James Tekel, Esq.
Partner, Meany, Tekel, O'Parson, McGee