Data Acquisition

Experts Speaking Out Against EU Proposal That Would Grant Robots 'Personhood'

16 April 2018

A group of 156 legal, technology and commerce experts are speaking out against a European Parliament proposal that would declare special legal status for robots — a move that would pardon manufacturers for the actions of their machines.

The group expressed their concerns in a letter to the European Parliament concerning a report that robots would be granted 'personhood' status.

“From a technical perspective, this statement offers many bias [sic] 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,” the open statement says.

Responding in particular to a paragraph appearing in the 2017 report from the European Parliament suggesting that self-learning autonomous robots would be granted the “status of electronic persons’” concerns experts because the legal status would absolve manufacturers from any liability for crimes committed by the machines.

According to one of the authors of the letter, law professor Nathalie Nevejans from the CNRS Ethics Committee: “By adopting legal personhood, we are going to erase the responsibility of manufacturers.”

The signed statement goes on to read: “A legal status for a robot can’t derive from the Natural Person model, since the robot would then hold human rights, such as the right to dignity, the right to its integrity, the right to remuneration or the right to citizenship, thus directly confronting the Human rights. This would be in contradiction with the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union and the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.”

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