If Asimo Thinks, Does Roomba Feel? The Legal Implications of Attributing Agency to Technology
5 Journal of Human-Robot Interaction 3 (Symposium on Robotics Law and Policy)
23 Pages Posted: 10 Jan 2018
Date Written: December 2016
Just as our interactions with other people are shaped by our concepts about their beliefs, desires, and goals (i.e., “theory of mind”), our interactions with intelligent technologies such as robots are shaped by our concepts about their internal operations. Multiple studies have demonstrated that people attribute anthropomorphic qualities to technological agents in certain contexts, but researchers remain divided as to when and how these attributions arise: What default assumptions do people make about the internal operations of intelligent technology, and what events or additional information cause us to alter those default assumptions? This article explores these open questions, reviewing relevant empirical evidence and describing a transition model of anthropomorphic attribution. We then explore the implications of the transition model for a sample of robotics law and policy issues. We address, in turn, issues related to Fourth Amendment protection, copyright law, statutory and regulatory interpretation, and negligence litigation, identifying specific implications of the transition model for each issue.
Keywords: law and psychology, technology, automation, robotics, Fourth Amendment, search and seizure, copyright, authorship, torts, negligence, theory of mind, psychology, anthropomorphism
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