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EU projects could make laws for robot workers

EU projects could make laws for robot workers

Recently, European lawmakers proposed a new legislation, which would regulate the use of robots in factory production processes and define the liability of self-driving vehicles.

Lawmakers in the EU are discussing the possibility of certain laws and regulations that would apply to the use of robotic workers inside EU’s factories. Experts believe that an ethical framework for the development of robots is needed, as well as clear liability for robots and self-driving vehicles. Such proposals have been issued as recommendations to the European Commission, on which the Commission must give reason if choosing not to follow. On a similar note, EU authorities voted ‘no’ on a tax that would have been applied to robot owners and which would have compensated human workers who lost their jobs in favor of a robot equivalent. The latter decision is backed up by a statement issued by the Frankfurt-based International Federation of Robotics (IFR): ‘The IFR believes that the idea to introduce a robot tax would have had a very negative impact on competitiveness and employment’.

On the same note, an EU Parliament statement shows the urgency of adopting these regulations: ‘The EU needs to take the lead on setting these standards, so as not to be forced to follow those set by third countries’.

Moreover, having robot workers will be able to increase productivity, as is in advanced industrial nations, such as Germany and its automotive industry, the IFR believes. IFR statistics also show an increase in industrial-grade robots of 15% in 2015, compared to 2014’s numbers. Global shipments in 2015, for instance, were worth 46 billion USD (EUR 43,19 billion).

Back in June 2016, the EU was debating whether to classify robots as ‘electronic persons’. The draft motion for the European Commission stated that ‘at least the most sophisticated autonomous robots could be established as having the status of electronic persons with specific rights and obligations’.