We may be many years away from robots that have personalities indistinguishable from humans, but the European Parliament (EP) is already preparing for such a future, calling for advanced artificial intelligences to be granted “electronic personhood” to ensure their rights.
Yesterday, members of the EP voted 17 to 2 in favor of a report written by Luxembourg politician Mady Delvaux that suggests a regulatory framework with regards to robotics and the law. It claims that AI is "poised to unleash a new industrial revolution, which is likely to leave no stratum of society untouched."
"A growing number of areas of our daily lives are increasingly affected by robotics," said Delvaux. "To ensure that robots are and will remain in the service of humans, we urgently need to create a robust European legal framework."
The report calls for Isaac Asimov's three laws of robotics to be implemented in AI design: robots must never allow humans to come to harm, they must obey all orders from humans, and must protect their own existence unless that means disobeying the first two rules.
It also suggests there should be a way to identify that a robot is a machine and not a human, so no Westworld/Blade Runner-style androids. In addition to giving them “specific legal status,” robot insurance should also be mandatory, as should a system for registering and tracking the machines.
For those concerned about a Skynet-inspired robot takeover, Delvaux believes all advanced AIs should come with a kill switch that can remotely deactivate them, should they start thinking about overthrowing humans.
The report also covers other areas of robotics, such as self-driving cars and the threat of large-scale unemployment as automation eliminates more jobs.
The full house of the European Parliament will vote on the draft proposals in February, which will need to be approved by absolute majority.