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Robot Jurisprudence: How to Judge a 'bot; Why It's Covered

The scales of justice, and a judge's gavel.

The RoboLaw consortium recently presented the European Parliament its findings on the potential need for legal frameworks to help manage the development of robotic technology.


The RoboLaw consortium is a group of experts in the fields of law, engineering, philosophy, regulation, and human enhancement brought together in 2012 by the European Commission to contemplate legal frameworks that might be necessary to help manage the development of robotic technology. RoboLaw recently released a final report and presented its findings to the European Parliament.

The report seeks to strike a balance between the need to create laws that protect human rights and interests and the freedom to allow technology to develop and mature.

One example is in the area of liability, concerning who is accountable when a robot is involved in damage to property or harm to a human. The RoboLaw report suggests tough liability standards could quickly shut down innovation and instead recommends liability waivers or the creation of public-private compensation funds.

Another important but distant issue is that of robot rights. The report suggests robots should not be granted equal legal standing to human beings, although they could be granted a legal status similar to that of a corporation in some situations.

The study notes many of these issues have international implications and should be handled on an international rather than a national basis.

From The Economist
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Abstracts Copyright © 2014 Information Inc., Bethesda, Maryland, USA


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