EU wants mandatory kill switches on robots

humans-channel4-amc-sci-fi-tv-seriesThe European Parliament’s legal affairs committee wants all robots to be equipped with emergency “kill switches” to prevent them from causing excessive damage and taking over the world.

Legislators have also suggested that robots be insured and even be made to pay taxes.

Mady Delvaux, the parliamentarian who authored the proposal said that a growing number of areas of daily lives were increasingly affected by robotics. To ensure that robots are and will remain in the service of humans, there needed to be a robust European legal framework.

The proposal calls for a new charter on robotics that would give engineers guidance on how to design ethical and safe machines. Designers should include “kill switches” so that robots can be turned off in emergencies. They must also make sure that robots can be reprogrammed if their software doesn’t work as designed.

The proposal states that designers, producers and operators of robots should generally be governed by the “laws of robotics” described by science fiction writer Isaac Asimov. The proposal adds that robots should always be identifiable as mechanical creations.

That will help prevent humans from developing emotional attachments and start thinking that a robot is a human and loves you.

The proposal calls for a compulsory insurance scheme — similar to car insurance — that would require producers and owners to take out insurance to cover the damage caused by their robots.

The proposal explores whether sophisticated autonomous robots should be given the status of “electronic persons.” This designation would apply in situations where robots make autonomous decisions or interact with humans independently.

It would also saddle robots with certain rights and obligations — for example, robots would be responsible for any damage they cause. If advanced robots start replacing human workers in large numbers, the report recommends the European Commission force their owners to pay taxes or contribute to social security.