back to article MEPs in 'urgent' call for new laws on artificial intelligence and robotics

The European Parliament today called for EU-wide liability laws to cover robotics and artificial intelligence. MEPs also want researchers to adopt ethical standards that "respect human dignity". In a resolution today MEPs noted that several countries are planning robotics regulations and that “the EU needs to take the lead on …

  1. Fraggle850

    Thank *deity* we're leaving

    I'll be able to continue with my plans for robogeddon unhindered

    1. James 51

      Re: Thank *deity* we're leaving

      You forgot the joke icon.

  2. AceRimmer1980

    I saw the documentary about this.

    The Animatrix.

  3. Ken Hagan Gold badge

    "Although manufacturers including Volvo, Google, and Mercedes say they will accept full liability if their autonomous vehicles cause a collision, this is not currently a legal requirement."

    Really? I'd have thought that it was just another case of a manufacturer being liable for defects in the design or manufacture of a product, in cases where loss or damage occurs during the normal and intended operation of said product.

    Put another way, if you sell me a car with the claim that it drives itself and the occupants don't need a driving licence, you are the driver. You may need new laws to allow such a product to be deployed on public roads, but such laws have been passed in several places.

    1. Chris King

      Share And Enjoy ! Share And Enjoy !

      "Although manufacturers including Volvo, Google, and Mercedes say they will accept full liability if their autonomous vehicles cause a collision, this is not currently a legal requirement."

      They're only saying that until they can work out how to say "Go stick your head in a pig" in legalese...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Share And Enjoy ! Share And Enjoy !

        If I kill someone by driving up the pavement I may well receive a prison sentence. If a Google controlled car does the same they'll get a fine, probably after years of legal arguments.

        So, a change in law to send Google people to prison as if they'd been driving the car themselves seems entirely reasonable.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    MEPs, it's not just cars! Don't autonomous guns/drones/subs also fall under the robotics laws?

    There were a few books written on the subject in the 1940's/50's

    One of them seems to be available here, for reference purposes

  5. Scott Broukell

    I'm sorry for your loss Mrs.Buttle, but, you see, your husband was using the autonomous vehicle in entirely the wrong way when it inexplicably veered of the road in excess of three times the proscribed speed limit. Then, whilst comatose in hospital, as far as we can determine, he deliberately held his limbs in the wrong position whilst the Robo-surgeon performed it's life saving tasks. Such an unforgivably stubborn attitude on his part did not help matters and we really tried our best to reassemble his major organs once we had re-programmed the surgeon bot. However, sadly, later on, prior to being delivered to the auto-morgue, it would appear his remains were bagged by the hospital waste-bot for immediate incineration, because, due entirely to his earlier reluctance to cooperate with those programmed to help, there simply weren't enough bits of him left in the right places for the waste-bot to make any other identification.

    But rest assured that your custom does matter to us and that, going forward, future patients will have learned lessons from this and therefore be better able to comply with such automated emergency response technology in ways that bring meaningful, positive, results for all. In the end your late husband has to take all the blame for the tragic outcome. Thank you.

  6. Adrian 4 Silver badge

    "No matter how autonomous and self-learning they become they do not attain the characteristics of a living human being. Robots will not enjoy the same legal physical personality."

    That's remarkably prescient of her. I wonder how she expects to distinguish them ? I can barely distinguish most M(E)Ps from robots already, based on their ability at creative thought..

    It might be that she expects to discriminate on appearance, ethnicity or lifestyle. Which would be odd, since I thought we were trying to grow out of all that.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Black box voice recorder

    Any robot or robotic device big enough to be able to injure a human should not be capable of carrying out an order unless it has permanently recorded the identity of the person giving the order in an internal, aircraft-style black box. Quite simply, there should never be a situation where a robot has been ordered to do something but no one knows who gave the order.

    In today's world we ban people from driving for committing offences; in tomorrow's world we'll be banning people from giving orders to robots.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Black box voice recorder

      Generally they do this by painting the flag of the country doing the ordering on the side

  8. Trigonoceps occipitalis

    I Look Forward to

    The EU's 303 Laws of Robotics.

  9. wikkity

    This is

    the exact kind of stuff that the EU wastes money on that excites people and encourages so called popularist* trends. I'm sure we will need this at some soon, but is now really the time for a bunch of politicians to start telling researchers what they need to do? And how much money will be wasted in the meantime?

    If the MEPs don't want the rest of the EU going down the same route they really need someone handling what is a good idea to do without pissing money away, or at least how it is handled PR wise.

    I went for pint last night and the conversation started from this, with everyone saying it's good we are out of Europe so we won't pay for this! 15 minutes later it's about some polish guy on TV saying he gets housing benefits (which people don't understand how, as we are of course now out of europe now). It just takes one stupid thing the EU does (and there are a lot no doubt) before anything else vaguely related to Europe is dragged into validate an established opinion.

    Disclaimer in case it was required, I was a remainer, but that milk is now split so move on but still a bit of distaste. That said a hard exit is the only sensible course but a fragmented Europe would be worse for us.

    * my definition is basing opinion upon gut reaction and hearsay rather than fact, and something genuinely I feel is going to cause absolute mayhem in the years to come.

  10. m0rt

    "No matter how autonomous and self-learning they become they do not attain the characteristics of a living human being..."

    Until the robots decide otherwise...

  11. hoola Silver badge


    There are huge implications here that have to be addressed, not least are the social and moral issues. Robotics and automation are fine to some extent but what is going to happen here is that it being used as a tool to increase profits for the few. Look at who are pushing it, tech companies that already do everything possible to avoid paying taxes. The impact on the general population is going to be decreased employment, increased poverty. The real whammy then is that the very companies that are pushing it will not be paying their share of the tax to support the welfare state and we end up with current 1st world countries turning into 3rd (or should that be 4th) world countries.

    Whatever the motives behind this being dressed up as safety,. convenience etc, huge swathes of the population are going to end up with no meaningful employment, the welfare state grows and becomes unaffordable and society collapses. All too often science or technological development take a course tends up being destructive, or benefits a tiny elite minority at the expense of the majority.

    Make no mistake, about it, the current push for AI, driverless vehicles is all about the few making money.

    1. Intractable Potsherd

      Re: Robotics

      The issue of where the money is going to come from to pay a basic income to millions of people has been troubling me, too. The point about taxation of multinational companies that seem to exist everywhere for sales purposes and nowhere for tax purposes is a major consideration, especially since, even if there is a successful way found to extract proper levels of tax, it will just be passed on to the buyer, and so higher basic income will be needed. Whilst a naive part of me hopes that the companies will realise that absorbing zone extra taxation is in their best interests, I have no evidence that such enlightened thinking exists in board-rooms.

  12. William 3 Bronze badge

    Very amusing.

    It's only when mechanisation starts to threaten middle class & upper class jobs do they start shitting their pants and demand laws to cover robots and AI.

    When it was the farmers, train drivers, factory workers, their absence was palpable.

    Given the state of politicians the world over, I can see why they're shitting themselves about being replaced with AI. Even a speak n spell has more ethics & morals.

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