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Can Robots Have Human Rights Obligations? A Futuristic Exploration

THE LAW OF THE FUTURE AND THE FUTURE OF LAW, Vol. 2, pp. 185-193, Sam Muller, ed., The Hague: Torkel Opsahl Academic EPublisher, 2012

9 Pages Posted: 1 Jan 2013  

Surya Deva

City University of Hong Kong; City University of Hong Kong (CityUHK) - Centre for Chinese & Comparative Law

Date Written: December 31, 2012

Abstract

In future, autonomous robots will play an increasingly important role in our lives and society generally. What implications does this scenario have for human rights? Can robots be ‘holders’ of rights as well as duties? This chapter explores whether and how robots can bear human rights obligations. It will be contended that non-human entities like robots can (and ought to) be obligated to respect human rights. Here one can draw analogy with evolving jurisprudence concerning the human rights obligations of companies. As far as the modus operandi of imposing such a duty on robots is concerned, one easy solution might be to rely on the ‘agency model’ and hold their human masters accountable for human rights abuses resulting from robotic actions or omissions. While the agency model is useful, it might become desirable to attribute responsibility directly to robots as well.

Keywords: human rights, autonomous social robots, artificial intelligence, moral agency, accountability of robots, vicarious liability, sanctions against robots

Suggested Citation

Deva , Surya, Can Robots Have Human Rights Obligations? A Futuristic Exploration (December 31, 2012). THE LAW OF THE FUTURE AND THE FUTURE OF LAW, Vol. 2, pp. 185-193, Sam Muller, ed., The Hague: Torkel Opsahl Academic EPublisher, 2012. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2194981

Surya Deva (Contact Author)

City University of Hong Kong ( email )

School of Law
83 Tat Chee Avenue
Kowloon Tong
Hong Kong

City University of Hong Kong (CityUHK) - Centre for Chinese & Comparative Law ( email )

83 Tat Chee Avenue
Room P5300, 5th Floor, Academic 1
Kowloon Tong
Hong Kong

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