European Perspectives on an Emergent Law of Robotics

Columbia Journal of European Law: Preliminary Reference (Apr. 4, 2017)

10 Pages Posted: 24 Apr 2017

See all articles by Joanna Caytas

Joanna Caytas

University of Oxford, Nanotechnology for Medicine and Health Care

Date Written: April 4, 2017

Abstract

As artificial intelligence and learning-enabled automation turn into a staple not only in the workplace but across all areas of life, legislation and jurisprudence relating to that immensely transformative phenomenon largely remained stuck in models and paradigms of the analog world.

But analogies to conventional mechanical machines and related concepts of product liability, personal injury, intellectual property, and a wide array of rights and responsibilities can be stretched only so far. Beyond all that lays what looks today like science fiction – and yet it may still lag behind the dynamic of aggressive innovation that, within a few short years, has laid the groundwork for almost fully automated warfare, police work, automotive transport, and the replacement of increasingly numerous and comprehensive functions even in highly specialized and regulated professions.

While parts of the EU proposal to endow robots with “quasi-human” individual rights such as an “electronic personhood” sound like misguided science fiction today, along with other contentious propositions like a mandatory “kill switch,” they are but mosaic stones in what promises to be an enduring human struggle to escape loss of control by way of a fast-approaching singularity, to avoid social detriment through inequality-reducing robot taxation and, generally, to avoid technophobe backlash in the face of never before encountered disruption of an anthropocentric world view and life form.

While none of today’s proposals should be viewed literally, much less as immutable, enduring frameworks, they do deserve to be taken seriously, as initial keystones in an edifice ambitious enough to control the boundaries of transhuman ingenuity as it surpasses both capabilities and direct operational and ethical control of its creators.

Keywords: Robotics, artificial intelligence, autonomous robots, machine learning, electronic personhood, robot tax, kill switch, European Union

Suggested Citation

Caytas, Joanna, European Perspectives on an Emergent Law of Robotics (April 4, 2017). Columbia Journal of European Law: Preliminary Reference (Apr. 4, 2017), Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2956958

Joanna Caytas (Contact Author)

University of Oxford, Nanotechnology for Medicine and Health Care ( email )

Oxford
United Kingdom

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