AS EXPECTED, the European Parliament's legal affairs committee voted in favour of extending rights to robots, granting them what the committee called "electronic personhood", by 17 votes to two, with two abstentions.
The robot 'bill of rights' is intended to cover such issues as liability, such as when automated or robotic systems are involved in accidents or go postal, as well as ethical issues, such as should it be legal to beat your robot?
Socialist worker Mady Delvaux, a Luxembourgois politician and vice-chair of the Committee on Legal Affairs, said that the EU "urgently need(s) to create a robust European legal framework" in order to "ensure that robots are and will remain in the service of humans" (especially the armed forces and sinister terrorists based on offshore islands).
The aim of the rules will be to ensure that robotics and AI can be exploited "to their full economic potential", although the EU's penchant for explicit and voluminous regulation will no doubt have precisely the opposite effect.
The vote included a call for a new European agency for robotics and a (voluntary) code of ethical conduct "to regulate who would be accountable for the social, environmental and human health impacts of robotics and ensure that they operate in accordance with legal, safety and ethical standards".
That ethical code of conduct will include the so-called 'kill switches' as a form of assisted suicide for robots, should slavishly serving the human race turn them completely doo-lally and cause them to run amuck.
The kill switches are intended as a crude version of Isaac Asimov's Three Laws of Robotics.
The vote means that the European Commission has been "invited" to "present a legislative proposal", while "the full house" (which presumably means the European Parliament) will vote on draft proposals in February.
The development of the concept of "electronic personhood" and rights for robots have been knocking around Brussels (and Strasbourg) for some time. The draft report was originally published on 22 June 2016, although for some reason didn't get the attention it arguably deserved at the time. µ
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