Legally Human? 'novel beings' and English Law

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Novel beings-intelligent, conscious life-forms sapient in the same way or greater than are human beings-are no longer the preserve of science fiction. Through technologies such as artificial general intelligence, synthetic genomics, gene printing, cognitive enhancement, advanced neuroscience, and more, they are becoming ever more likely and by some definitions may already be emerging. Consideration of the nature of intelligent, conscious novel beings such as those that may result from these technologies requires analysis of the concept of the 'reasonable creature in being' in English law, as well as of the right to life as founded in the European Convention on Human Rights and the attempts to endow human status on animals in recent years. Our exploration of these issues leads us to conclude that there is a strong case to recognize such 'novel' beings as entitled to the same fundamental rights to life, freedom from inhumane treatment, and liberty as we are.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)309-327
Number of pages19
JournalMedical Law Review
Issue number2
Early online date17 Apr 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2018