Who (or what) is an 'electronic person'? We may know sooner than expected.
According to a resolution passed in the European Parliament, the Commission should take a number of urgent steps to ensure a smooth transition into the 'fourth industrial revolution' of robotics and artificial intelligence.
A key measure being proposed is the granting of a specific legal status to robots - that of an 'electronic person' - in order to clarify the legal position of parties involved in, for instance, an accident involving an autonomous vehicle. In addition, mandatory 'kill switches' should be built into any potentially dangerous projects.
Putting any anti-apocalypse measures aside, a less newsworthy yet no less important development lies in the fact that the European Parliament refused a request to consider a special income for those who lose their jobs due to automation. For all our efforts aimed at the ultimate survival of the human race, the issue of future mass unemployment remains unresolved.
With the robotics industry rapidly growing, MEPs have warned that rules are needed to 'guarantee a standard level of safety and security.' In a resolution voted today, MEPs are asking the EU Commission to enforce regulatory standards for robotics, and have stressed that the key issue lies with self-driving cars. They have suggested that a European agency for robotics and artificial intelligence should be set up, to supply public authorities with technical, ethical and regulatory expertise. They also asked for specific legal status for robots as 'electronic persons' in the long run, in order to establish who is liable if they cause damage.