I first wrote about the civil rights of robots in a little article for Shift Magazine - the Canadian Wired - back in 1998. An expanded version of the article was published in my Bestseller anthology in 1999.
A succinct version of the almost paradoxical situation our increasing perfection of robots brings us to: We invent robots to be our servants -- to do dangerous or tedious jobs that we would rather not do. We try to make them more and more intelligent, so they do their jobs better. What happens when we make our robots so intelligent that they are sentient beings? Are we morally entitled to continue treating them as slaves? Or will our future robots be entitled to civil rights?
Robots as citizens will be one of the episodes of FUTURESCAPE, which will debut on The Science Channel on November 19, 2013. I've seen clips from the episodes, and they're excellent! You'll be able to see some of them tomorrow.