Most Advanced Robots Could Receive Legal Status as Electronic Persons


Robots will most likely receive legal status of “electronic persons” in the future. Those who do not comply with society rules should be remotely terminated, recommends the report.

With the recent advancements in autonomous technology taking machines one step closer to be able to think for themselves, Europe seeks to implement precautionary measures that allow human handlers to terminate a robot quickly and remotely, if the need arises, as well as attributing the social status of electronic persons to most advanced units.

The legal status also comes with more than the just title, with rights, obligations, and regulations to keep the machines in check at all times.

Robots’ Electronic Persons Status and Its Implications

A socialist member of the European Parliament, Mady Delvaux from Luxembourg has authored the report that proposes categorizing robots as electronic persons. Furthermore, the European Parliament Committee on Legal Affairs also approved of the report.

If it goes into effect, the EU Agency for Robotics and Artificial Intelligence will be in charge of monitoring the machines’ behavioral patterns, as well as mitigate potential issues with robots. The report further proposed equipping robots with tracking tools and a kill switch in order to account for a robot’s behavior and take necessary measures when the unit goes haywire.

Interestingly enough, the document also requires the machines manufacturers to equip their units with some kind of tool that will let humans know about the robots’ nature whenever people interact with them. More specifically, the robot will literally have to spell out it is not human and it will never be human.

Robot-Human Connection

The document seeks to regulate human-robot interaction, so people will not get emotionally attached to the machines. It is already known that individuals that are dependent on robots are more susceptible to this. Furthermore, humans can get emotionally attached to robots. Scientists refer to this attachment as the “Tamagotchi effect”

The author fears that people who depend on care robots could develop feelings towards the machine, which, in turn, represents a cause for concern in regard to human dignity and various other moral values.

The Kill Switch as a Last Resort

The report demands robot designers to equip their units with a kill switch that would allow human operators to step in when the robots malfunction, potentially putting human lives at risk.

The document also recommends implementing a tool that could trace the “electronic person’s” decision-making steps, which operators could also alter in order for the machines to comply with ethical principles and applicable laws.

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About June Harris

June was born and raised in Ligonier, a small historic town in Pennsylvania. She befriended TV cameras at an early age when she was selected to feature in a local TV series for children. Her passion for entertainment grew bigger after June was named Miss Pennsylvania at 16 years old. She was co-opted in various projects ever since and is now a strong promoter of fitness and health activities.