MEPs call for rules on robotic and AI ethical standards and liability

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EU-wide rules are needed for the ever-evolving field of robotics, say MEPs as part of a resolution vote.

Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) asked the EU Commission to impose rules on robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) to utilize their economic potential and ensure a standard level of safety and security. The rules would look to enforce ethical standards or establish liability for accidents involving driverless cars or delivery robots, for example.

MEPs also noted that other countries are already working on their own sets of rules for robotics and AI, and urged the Commission to act fast to be the body that sets the standard.

The resolution was passed by 396 votes to 123, with 85 abstentions.

Mady Delvaux, rapporteur for the Socialist and Democrats in Luxembourg, created a report looking at robotics-related issues in the labor market.

“Although I am pleased that the plenary adopted my report on robotics, I am also disappointed that the right-wing coalition of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE), European People’s Party (EPP), and the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) refused to take account of the possible negative consequences on the job market,” she commented.

“They rejected an open-minded and forward-looking debate and thus disregarded the concerns of our citizens.”

Delvaux is referring to the concern that the rapid development of robots might result in changes in the labor market through the creation, displacement and loss of certain jobs.

MEPs have called for a mandatory insurance scheme for self-driving cars, as well as a supplementary fund to ensure that victims of accidents involving driverless cars are fully compensated. They also asked the EU Commission to create a specific long-term legal status for robots to establish who is liable if they cause damage.

There is added concern from members about ethical issues surrounding robotics and AI, specifically in regards to privacy and safety. They suggested a voluntary ethical code of conduct for robotic researchers and designers to ensure they operate in accordance with legal and ethical standards, and that human dignity is respected.

The creation of a European agency for robotics and AI to supply public authorities with technical, ethical and regulatory expertise was also put forward by the MEPs.

By Kirstie Pickering

February 20, 2017

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Kirstie joined the team in early 2017 and brings writing, communications and client experience with her. Now an assistant editor, she produces content for our magazines and websites. Away from the office, you will find her blogging on her lifestyle website or searching the internet for photos of sausage dogs.

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