The Association for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals was organized in 1866. The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children followed not long after, in 1874. The Association for the Prevention of Cruelty to Robots was founded in 1999.
Their idea is not so much that we should be courteous to industrial robot arms or that we should protect their right to work. Rather, they are getting ready for the sentient robot.
Many people have speculated that artificial intelligence could at some point become smart enough that we could define it as sentient. If robots have some level of autonomy and can learn new things and make decisions, we might think of them as thinking. If at some point they become self-aware, we would at that point need to think about their rights.
The people of the Association for Prevention of Cruelty to Robots figure we need to think about these things before they happen. At various points in history, human beings met other groups of human beings. We have evidence that they didn’t always recognize the new groups as humans. When that happens, the two groups often feel free to enslave, kill, or eat members of the other group. APCR wants to avoid a period of history during which we mistreat robots because we haven’t caught on yet that they are sentient.