Robotics experts tell EU to stop relying on science fiction

EU proposal based on ‘overvaluation of the capabilities’ of robots, experts say

A European Parliament resolution on civil-law rules of robotics is based on “a superficial understanding” of the unpredictability and self-learning capacities of  robots, experts have said.

A European Parliament resolution on civil-law rules of robotics is based on “a superficial understanding” of the unpredictability and self-learning capacities of robots, experts have said.

 

In February 2017, the European Parliament adopted a resolution on civil-law rules of robotics. As part of this, there is a proposal to create a special legal status for sufficiently advanced autonomous robots that would amount to electronic personhood, shifting responsibility from the owner or manufacturer to the robot were it to cause damage or injure someone.

Before this proposal gets kicked any further down the road, a group of signatories representing artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics researchers, industry leaders, law and ethics experts, health specialists and political leaders have written an open letter to the European Commission urging them to rethink this approach to advancements in AI and robotics.

The letter, addressed to commission president Jean-Claude Juncker among others, points to a lack of understanding of how AI works or what an autonomous machine is truly capable of, as an erroneous starting point for this suggestion of electronic personhood.

The proposal, they say, is based on “an overvaluation of the actual capabilities of even the most advanced robots, a superficial understanding of unpredictability and self-learning capacities and, a robot perception distorted by science fiction and a few recent sensational press announcements”.

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