From the endnotes of Ted Chiang’s Exhalation on the short story “The lifecycle of softare objects”:
I’ve read stories in which people argue that AIs deserve legal rights, but in focusing on the big philosophical question, there’s a mundane reality that these stories gloss over. It’s similar to the way movies always depict love in terms of grand romantic gestures when, over the long term, love also means working through money problems and picking dirty laundry off the floor. So while achieving legal rights for AIs would be a major step, another milestone that would be just as important is people putting real effort into their individual relationships with AIs.
And even if we don’t care about them having legal rights, there’s still good reason to treat conscious machines with respect. You don’t have to believe that bomb-sniffing dogs deserve the right to vote to recognize that abusing them is a bad idea. Even if all you care about is how well they can detect bombs, it’s in your best interest that they be treated well. No matter whether we want AIs to fill the role of employees, lovers, or pets, I suspect they will do a better job if, during their development, there were people who cared about them.