Special Interest Group Sheds Light on Robot Laws

September 26, 2010 § 1 Comment

“Now Mr Beekman, if we could turn to you, the European Union ratified a Convention on Roboethics some time ago, how has that been received in the member states?”

Hans Beekman’s projection was as diminutive as the Senator was immense; leaning forward to speak, thick glasses teetered on the sharp precipice of his nose. “W-well, Convention focuses on maintaining basic standards of safety, security, traceability, privacy and identifiability…it doesn’t deal with artificial agents as juridical persons—that’s left for the courts at a national level to—to determine.”

“So there is no real discussion of robot rights in Europe?”

“Oh, there is always discussion.” Hans’ tinny chuckle was like ball bearings on a coffee table, uncomfortably brittle, “There are some radical groups, uh, human groups, arguing that robots are members of the ‘human family’ and denying their rights contravenes the preamble of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. But as Mr. Clarkson has said, the chief function of the law is to protect our human rights.

“Do Asimov’s Laws apply in Europe?”

“There’s nothing at the level of the E.U to advocate specific hard-wired ethical parameters per se; the manufacturers are bound to a strict code of non-malfeasance, and most try to stick as closely as possible to a Code of Roboethical Conduct, the goal of which is to ensure artificial agents designed in Europe uphold the E.U Charter of Fundamental Rights.”

Live video feed of frozen Askja’s unexpected eruption bloomed violently red in my mind’s eye,  magma and pellets of ash shooting thousands of feet into the air. In Mexico men from Oaxaca danced for the Luna del Cerro. The price of salmon rose by 13 yen. Yasukawa’s fingers moved a centimeter or two upward.

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