Over at Wired UK, Mark Piesing navigates the difficulties of building a legal framework for robots:
While Joseph Engelberger, one of the fathers of robotics, was happy to admit that “I can’t define a robot, but I know one when I see one”, the RoboLaw project decided at the beginning to narrow this down a bit by looking at a wide range of “things” at home, from a robot arm to “softbots”, and hybrid bionic systems such as hand prostheses.
The list, says Salvini, takes into account autonomous robots, including neurobiotics — robots controlled via a brain-computer interface — and service robots that operate in the home, cities and other public roles.
The next task of the project was to do phased research to identify what existing regulations apply to robotic technology, how the consequences vary from country to country, and what is happening in other disciplines. The result was a series of case studies which the roboticists, lawyers and philosophers explored to find possible solutions to future problems.
Now with a year to go they are at last coming to conclusions — even if these are confidential until they’ve been shown to the European Commission.