News » EP report suggests to make robots ‘electronic persons’

Saturday, February 11, 2017

EP report suggests to make robots ‘electronic persons’

It is by no means a "science fiction" anymore: robots, which take over tasks in the service area. Cars that control themselves. Intelligent machines that replace industrial workers. Now the EU wants to retrofit and create a legal framework for robots.

MEP Gericke warns against the consequences of the Delvaux report: "transhumanism becomes law". "This is already problematic approach," says Arne Gericke (ECPM), MEP for the German Family Party and Vice-President of the Bioethics Working Group in the European Parliament. "However, the answers to address this issue given in the legislative proposal are wrong - even more: they are dangerous and break ethical taboos." For example, when the Luxembourg socialist Maddy Delvaux calls for a "legal personality for robots", he designs fundamental rights for intelligent machines and paves the way for humanoid beings. Next Thursday, the Strasbourg plenary will vote on a corresponding initiative law – Yesterday, Gericke has tabled a number of appropriate amendments.

Gericke, a bioethics expert, sees a scandal in the "legal personality right for robots". Although he is not a member of the committee on legal affairs, the member of ECPM has forged a last-minute coalition of Christian parliamentarians, who oppose the ad hoc plans of the Robot Lobby: "From the ethical point of view, such a hasty definition in the field of robotics is unacceptable and dangerous. "

In several plenary amendments, Gericke and his colleagues - including the Croatian MEP Marijana Petir - are trying to prevent at least “the worst points of the report". For example, they demand the deletion of a paragraph that requires a "legal personality" for robots and other machines with independent, artificial intelligence: "To put it plausibly, the report here makes the machine too human, it gives the robots a personnel ID - with devastating, incalculable consequences!"

Gericke pleas for large corporations and researchers to take responsibility: “Behind every machine there must always be human responsibility." Gericke also wants to highlight the references to "human enhancement" - the improvement and optimization of human bodies by robot elements: "Here we again want to play God - we make the terminator saga a sad reality. Transhumanism becomes law! Not one person with a conscience can accept this."

There is one more spicy detail to this report: "While we are discussing the most sensitive topic of robotics for the first time in Parliament, the rapporteur starts with a so-called INL report" - in short: a very rarely used instrument of the European Parliament to submit legislative proposals directly to the Council, which can be unanimously accepted or rejected by the latter. A method which is only reserved and foreseen for "interinstitutional concerns".

The vote on the report in the European Parliament is scheduled for next Thursday, with a debate in plenary on Wednesday. The report itself can be found online.