What If Robots Have the Same Rights As Humans?
What If Robots Have the Same Rights As Humans?
  • 김선화 기자
  • 승인 2017.03.08 09:00
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The EU (European Union) passed a resolution that defines an artificial intelligence robot (cybot) as an electronic human being. This resolution confers legal status to robots for the first time and will form the basis of future enactments concerning robots.

Adoption Background of the Robot Civil Law Resolution

The World Economic Forum (WEF) warned in its annual global risk report that if an AI or robotic technology is no longer controlled by humans; the survival of humankind will become threatened. The details are as follows:

"There is a danger of being totally dependent on this system without fully understanding the decision-making method of the AI system and competition in the development of military robots. Superintelligence can threaten the survival of mankind."

As a measured response to this, the European Union has issued a resolution. Here are some details of the Robot Civil Law resolution.

Section 1) The robot must not hurt or injure people.

Section 2) The robot must obey the order unless the human commands us against the first section.

Section 3) Robots must protect their existence within the confines of section 1 and 2.

These three provisions are based on principles that Isaac Asimov presented in his novel I, Robot.

The following is a summary of the Robot Civil Law resolution points.

1. Robots which are installed with artificial intelligence (AI) are defined as 'electronic humans.'

2. AI robots must be designed so that the algorithm can live and contribute to humanity.

3. AI robots have to design algorithms to contribute to humanity and life.

4. In preparation for the departure of the AI robots, we have to install 'kill switches' which can forcibly shut down the system operation.

5. Human beings must be prepared for the era of the fourth industrial revolution in which they must cooperate with AI robots.

In addition, the resolution states that AI robots must not be socially misused or hacked, should be free of social anxiety.

All robots must be equipped with a kill switch. A kill switch is a switch that deletes personal data and prevents theft when a device is lost. This switch can also function as a self-destructor. It is a function that can be used to stop a robot immediately if someone hacks or uses it to harm human beings.

If the robot crashes, the authorities should be able to access the system code immediately. In addition to the rights of robots, the EU requested for the establishment of a committee specialized to discuss the ethical norms and rules of robots.

Considering that unemployment is likely to occur as robots take over from human jobs, Parliament included in the resolution that companies that hire AI robots should be given 'robots tax'. The resolution was passed by the European Parliament on January 12, 2017, in Brussels, Belgium, with only two of the 17 votes opposed to the resolution.

Ongoing Controversy

Ultimately, robots will have the same rights as humans, which could later lead to intellectual property disputes between robots and humans. It also raises the question of who should take responsibility when the robot hurts people or causes other accidents. This is not as simple as pressing the kill switch of a robot when a robot kills a person. At this time, it is not yet clear whether or not the person who created the robot should be responsible for its crime. It is also unclear who should bear responsibility if the robot commits a crime against its programmer. The ethical issues surrounding robots and their functions in society will only draw more attention as robots become more integrated in day to day life.

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