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EU MEPs call for robot ‘kill switches’

EU Committee says laws should be put in place for robot 'persons.'

By Hannah Williams

The European Parliament Committee on Legal Affairs has set a draft report regarding the growing field of robots, considering giving robots legal status as ‘electronic persons.’

This includes issues such as ethical standards and protection against accidents involving driverless cars, in which the European Parliament says should be put forwards by the EU Commission.

Rapporteur Mady Delavaux said: “A growing number of areas of our daily lives are increasingly affected by robotics. In order to address this reality and 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 suggest that as humankind is at an era where more sophisticated robots, bots, androids and other AI designs are deployed,  it may be unleashing a new state of the industrial revolution.

“…Which is likely to leave no stratum of society untouched, it is vitally important for the legislature to consider all its implications.”

RobotsIt is also advised that robot designers embed ‘kill switches’ enabling robots to be switched off in case of emergencies.

Delavauxs report, which was approved by 17 to two, with two abstentions, focuses on the issues related to robotics such as liability, safety and changes in the labour market.

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The EU Committee’s report, drafted in 2016 found that between 2010 and 2014, the average increase of robot sales remained at 17 percent, whist in 2014 sales rose by 29 percent driven by automotive parts suppliers and the electronics industry. The report is expected to face votes of the full EU Parliament in February 2017.

This shows the rise of robotics and automated systems within the EU, as the increase continues to reach greater heights it is urged that consideration is taken into ways they can fit into society.

Based on social impact, the development of robotics is expected to result in big societal changes, which may include a loss of jobs in certain fields. The report urges the Commission to analyse these trends closely.

The EU Committee mentions the need for an EU agency for robotics and artificial intelligence, as well as an ethical code of conduct to regulate roles for who would be accountable for the social, environmental and human health impacts of robotics.

The automotive sector is stressed upon, as MEPs believe that rules are urgently needed to be put in place for self-driving cars, also requesting that an obligatory insurance scheme is set up to ensure victims are fully compensated in case of accidents.

The legislative procedure awaits a legislative proposal, from majority of the Parliament house in February, but has noted that they are not obliged to do so.

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