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Scientists, Lawyers Mull Effects of Home Robots


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Scientists and legal scholars are studying the likely effects of the inevitable bond that will form between humans and robots in the coming decade. Although robots have been interacting with humans outside the home for years, recently there has been an increase in home robots. By 2015, personal robot sales will exceed $5 billion, according to Allied Business Intelligence.

Microsoft's Eric Horvitz, president of the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AAAI), recently assembled a team of scientists to explore the future of human-robot interactions. "As we rely more and more on automated systems, we have to think of the implications," Horvitz says. "It is part of being a responsible scientist." A report on their discussions is due next year.

As home robots become more sophisticated, questions about product liability come into question. A recent panel discussion at Stanford Law School said the original manufacturer might not be liable if a robot started acting improperly. "Robots can often be instructed, they can be programmed, you can have software that is built upon by others," says Stanford's Ryan Calo.

AAAI recommends more research into the psychological reactions humans have to personal robots. The group also suggests that robots be designed with the ability to explain their reasoning.

From Associated Press
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