Debate goes on: Should robots have their own legal status?

Active debate over the ethical and legal status of robots and AI

Robotics and AI are a fast-developing field, and we all urge policymakers to recognize not only the potential of robotics, but also the risks and challenges relating to “human safety, privacy, integrity, dignity, autonomy and data ownership”.

All of us should consider questions of liability and the potential legal status of robots. The more autonomous robots are, the less they can be considered tools in the hands of other actors (such as the manufacturer, the owner, the user, etc.).

  • Thus, can the machine be held responsible for its acts or omissions?
  • And should robots possess a legal status? (Notes: current legal categories are “natural persons”, “legal persons”, “animals” or “objects” – but does this mean that a new category should be created, with its own specific features and implications as regards the attribution of rights and duties, including liability for damage?)
  • Should we give robots the right to kill humans?
  • Should we give robots the right to kill theirselves?
  • Must Inventors Be Humans?

New EU rules for the ethical and legal status of robots and AI

On 16 February, 2017, the European Parliament’s Plenary Session adopted the JURI report on civil rules on robotics (European Parliament resolution of 16 February 2017 with recommendations to the Commission on Civil Law Rules on Robotics (2015/2103(INL))) with recommendations to the EU Commission on Civil Law Rules on Robotics. The resolution was based on an in depth report (DRAFT REPORT with recommendations to the Commission on Civil Law Rules on Robotics (2015/2103(INL)) that delineates core challenges of the evolving field of robotics, including the ethical and legal issues, and provides recommendations for the development of the field in Europe.



EU scientists denied robots legal personhood

As for 4 May, 2018, in an open letter, 156 artificial intelligence experts from 14 European countries have rejected the European Parliament’s recommendation that robots should have legal status as electronic persons. This would make robots responsible for repairing any damage they might cause.

RoboticsOpenLetter_156 AI experts from 14 EU have rejected the EP's recommendation on robots legal personhood



About Sunney 98 Articles
I am currently a Professor of Zhejiang Gongshang University, Hangzhou, China, and Adjunct Professor with State Key Laboratory of Information Security, Institute of Information Engineering, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China.

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