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Robots Civil Rights? EU Prepares Law for "Electronic Persons" Walking Among Humans

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“The Laws of Robotics” may sound like a scientific paper, detailing technological findings in the creation of artificial intelligence; the reality however, is far more “sci-fi.”

Luxembourg MEP, Mady Delvaux, has produced a draft report with the European Parliament’s Committee on Legal Affairs which could lead to robots being given specific rights as “electronic persons.” While some elements of the report sound a little like the plot of a Hollywood movie, it does contain some reasonable proposals which could become very important as artificial intelligence advances.

It’s not every day that a European Parliament motion references Frankenstein, Pygmalion and Golem, but this motion does exactly that — pointing to the preoccupation of those working within the field of robotics to produce “humanoid” beings.

As Delvaux’s report highlights, we may now be on the verge of a new revolution.

The report details the importance of considering a robotic humanoid’s actions in a legal sense, specifically where artificial intelligence reaches a level where a machine can be “held — partly or entirely — responsible for its acts or omissions.” This raises the question of whether robots should be given a recognized legal status. This would also lead to decisions made by artificial intelligence bots being considered “electronic personalities” in cases where their decisions and third party interactions were autonomous.

The report does also get a little bit Matrix-esque at times…


Aside from speculations over how world powers would deal with a robot army takeover, the key proposals put forward by the report for consideration by the European Parliament do include important ethical factors.

Such as, a responsibility for organizations using robots in place of a human workforce to declare savings they have made by doing so for tax purposes; owners or operators of robots to pay in a form of social security or insurance to cover any potential legal costs which may arise due to the independent actions of an intelligent autonomous humanoid; and, a clear outline of where the liability lies for the actions of a robot.

MEPs will vote on whether or not to adopt the draft proposals, though it is expected to be a heated debate as many tech firms have claimed that too many laws over the future of robotics could have a detrimental impact on research and development.


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  • skreamer

    Oh no!…Oh hell no!….Oh fuck no!
    A machine cannot be held responsible for its actions! The person who created it or is controlling it, is responsible!
    The only reason they would want to give a robot rights, is so it can take over and kill you!
    A piece of plastic and metal is just plastic and metal! Who cares if it gets broken! Just make another!…Der!!!
    Chunks of plastic and metal do not need Civil Rights, no matter how well it talks to you!

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