A proposal from the European Parliament calls for the classification of working robots as “electronic persons.” Under the draft plan, the owners of the robots would also be liable to pay for social security for them, if it passes it law.
This call stems from the ever-increasing use of robots in various sectors, such as healthcare and manufacturing industries, to perform a wide range of tasks. This has also led to worries about unemployment, with robots performing certain jobs and increasing unemployment.
According to the proposal, the growth in automation necessitates the classification, but this hasn’t gone down well with some robotics company who view such a move as grossly premature.
Germany’s VDMA, which represents companies such as automation giant Siemens and robot maker Kuka, says the proposals are too complicated and too early, reports Reuters.
With the push for autonomous machines in everything, including UAVs and self-driving vehicles, the draft motion says it is time to rethink everything from legal liability to taxation.
According to the proposal, the European Commission should consider “that at least the most sophisticated autonomous robots could be established as having the status of electronic persons with specific rights and obligations”.
The proposal even addresses the impact of such a move on human dignity, which it refers to as ‘soft impacts.”
“whereas the ‘soft impacts’ on human dignity may be difficult to estimate, but will still need to be considered if and when robots replace human care and companionship, and whereas questions of human dignity also can arise in the context of ‘repairing’ or enhancing human beings.”
According to the report, it is time to look ahead to a time when robots could become “self-aware,” and that under current laws, robots cannot be held accountable for actions or omissions that cause damage to a third party.
The proposals in the draft will be non-binding, and it is too early to gauge if it will garner enough support in Parliament to pass.