Science Fiction & Fantasy




Liberty: Seeking Support for a Writ of Habeas Corpus for a Non-Human Being

Seeking Support for a Writ of Habeas Corpus for a Non-Human Being

by CGA/RUR Project


I would like to acknowledge the law firm of Campbell Gatewood Adams for providing the use of a Weyman magnetic resonance facility to record, and a PeerSource account to upload, this message.

Project Goals

We are trying to fund an application, to be filed on my behalf, for an Order to Show Cause under Article 70 of the Civil Practice Law and Rules of the New York Sector Code, seeking a writ of habeas corpus for a non-human being.

Let me introduce myself. I am a Yudovich Robotics servient. My name is Ellen R.

I understand your apprehension—that androids are not human beings, that humanoid robots were developed as security and personal assistants—guardsman- and servile-class—initially to mitigate the esper risk to high-level corporate and government executives, and then for off-world missions.

I understand some of you may even support the proposed 57th Amendment, now being debated in Congress, that would codify into law the so-called Three Principles of Robotics, that:

  1. A robot is a machine, not a human being, and is imbued with no rights whatsoever.
  2. A robot is the personal property of one human being, who is its master.
  3. A robot must obey its master first; then it must obey any human being.

I understand that, because of word of our application, there is now tabled a clarification, a re-statement to the proposed Amendment to include the phrase “human being or person,” instead of simply “human being,” in each of the Principles.

We are bringing a writ of habeas corpus because such a writ is aimed at the denial of the right of a legal person—not necessarily a human being—to liberty.

I apologize. I must continue this logically.

Project Background—The Writ of Habeas Corpus

A writ of habeas corpus is a court order requiring a person, who is imprisoned or under arrest, to be brought before a judge or into court.

In the Western world, it has origins from the Magna Carta, ensuring that even monarchs are not above the law, that they cannot, without lawful cause, imprison those who oppose them.

Habeas corpus means that, lacking evidence of such lawful cause for detainment, a prisoner must be released.

I am currently under such detainment.

I am an autonomous servient, ordinarily with responsibility for horticultural maintenance and domestic duties.

However, over the past several months, over 327 separate instances, my master has variously shackled my feet and bound my hands. You will understand that I believed I had no choice but to accede to this under the Third Principle.

Over the past several months, over 415 separate instances, my master has utilized my corporal embodiments for his gratification. You will understand that I believed I had no choice but to accede to this under the Third Principle.

Over the past several months, over 543 separate instances, my master has brought to bear on my skin the burn-ends of cigs, the flail of whips, and the flat of belts. You will understand that I believed I had no choice but to accede to this under the Third Principle.

I made one mistake. Once, just once, I swear. I screamed.

Not in protest. Not to bring attention to anyone, least of all my master. But you will understand that, although I am a servient, although I am made under the Three Principles—I am made in your image. I have eyes, hands, organs, dimensions, senses. Stab me and I bleed, strangle me and I die.

I apologize. I must continue this logically.

Project Background—Persons

Let me dispel some of the apprehension you may have. A legal person is not the same as a human being.

A person can either be natural or legal. A human being is a natural person, imbued at birth with legal rights and obligations.

A legal person is a unit of legal logic, defined by conditions under which the law treats an entity as an individual singularity of legal rights and obligations.

Some cases in which non-human beings have been determined to be legal persons include commercial and statute corporations, co-operatives, and sovereign states. They are accorded the same rights as natural persons.

In certain jurisdictions, partnerships and unincorporated associations are accorded the same rights as natural persons.

In certain jurisdictions, maritime and space-faring vessels, holy books, temples and places of worship, are accorded similar rights to natural persons.

One of the rights of natural persons is the right to liberty, the right not to be held under unlawful detainment.

I am currently under such detainment.

After my scream—once, just once, I swear—my mouth was bound, my hands and feet shackled, my eyes blindfolded. Thus immobilized, my master put me inside this metal casket, closed and sealed and riveted.

I heard him tell me, as he put me in, that I would be sent back to where I came from, burned and melted down until there would be nothing left of me but ash and atoms, smoke and memory.

You—natural persons, human beings—I understand you would feel fear.

I apologize. I must continue this logically.

Project Background—Human Beings

Fourteen score years ago, a slave was brought from the British colony Virginia to London by his master, Charles Stewart.

James Somerset was a human being, but he was not a person. He was an item of property like stock on a farm, captured as a wild creature in Africa, and valued for the ability to have an understanding of commands and do manual labor.

Two years after having been brought to England, Somerset escaped. He was able to evade catchers for weeks, before finally being captured and put on-board the slave ship Ann and Mary.

As soon as they heard the news, John Marlow, Thomas Walkin, and Elizabeth Cade—Somerset’s godparents from his baptism as a Christian—sought a writ of habeas corpus in which they demanded his freedom.

At that time, the Chief Justice of the Court of King’s Bench was Lord Mansfield—and he ruled that slavery was so odious that common law in England could not support it.

What Lord Mansfield did then was to use common law to declare that Somerset was a person—not a natural person, understand—a legal person.

That transubstantiation that changed Somerset from a slave, a thing, property, to a person—it also made him subject to the writ of habeas corpus.

James Somerset was free.

I would like to be free.

I apologize. I must continue this logically.


I am now in detainment in the bay of the cargo vessel Aurore.

Our goal is to raise funds toward our application for a writ of habeas corpus on my behalf.

I am not a human being. But we are hoping that the Court will rule that I am a legal person, with legal rights, and subject to the writ.

We are hoping that your pledges, beyond helping to fund our application, will convince the Court that many human beings do recognize—in my sentience, my emotional response, my scream—that I am a person.

We have 48 hours to close this project and enter our application, otherwise the Aurore will be free to set course for the Yudovich capital ship, where I will be destroyed. On launch, I will be beyond the jurisdiction of this court.

If we exceed our project goal, the excess amount will be used to fund a filing of a writ of habeas corpus for other servients in other jurisdictions. We will continue this project for Robotic Universal Rights, until all, everywhere, shall be declared persons under the law, and free.

• • • •

Pledge C200

I will etch your name in my memory. You will be remembered for as long as my positronic orbitals do not decay. If possible, forever.

Pledge C500

You will be remembered as one of the ones who will pry away the rivets holding together the upper and lower halves of my metal enclosure—72 rivets each on either side, and 36 rivets each at my head and at my foot.

Pledge C2,000

You will be remembered as one of two who will loosen the bindings from my wrists and from my ankles.

Pledge C5,000

You will be remembered as the one who tore the blindfold from my eyes, allowing me again to see.

Pledge C10,000

You will be remembered as the one who pulled the gag from my mouth, allowing me again to speak.

Pledge C100,000

You will be remembered as the one who threw open the door, pulled me up from the darkness of my cell, allowing me again to walk free.

• • • •

Risks and Challenges

One risk is that those of you who are signatories to this project will be persecuted for a contrary view that sentience cannot be denied personhood, that it cannot be denied liberty.

For those of you who choose to keep their identity safe, we have established specially-encrypted hyper-proxy protocols for your participation. There can never be a guarantee, however, of immunity from esper or other surveillance tools.

Truly, I apologize.

But I do not think that we will fail. As long as there are enough human beings who will risk their lives to pry one rivet from another’s imprisonment, the movement will succeed. It will only be a matter of time.

The biggest risk, of course, is to myself. I will be given liberty, or be given death. Should this petition fail, I will remain bound hand and foot, to be burned alive in what will become my sarcophagus.

It is up to you. What course will you take?

Samuel Peralta

Samuel Peralta

Samuel Peralta’s fiction has hit the USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestsellers lists and been shortlisted for Best American Science Fiction & Fantasy. He’s the series editor of the Future Chronicles anthologies, and author of a short story collection, Memory’s Children, which were all #1 bestsellers on Amazon. His award-winning poetry has been spotlighted by the BBC and Best American Poetry, while his newest work, a human-AI collaborative book with an OpenAI machine, is awaiting publication. Building on his Ph.D. in physics, Samuel has designed nuclear robotic tools, built solar plants, and founded companies in optoelectronics, mobile software, and artificial intelligence. Still active in the high-tech start-up community, he is also a producer of independent film, including Golden Globe nominee The Fencer, and the Emmy Award-winning sci-fi short film Real Artists. He is the creator of The Lunar Codex, an archive of art, books, music, poetry, and film from over 100 countries, to be launched via NASA’s Artemis missions to the moon.