Skip to Content
Artificial intelligence

Europeans are arguing over whether robots should have rights

April 12, 2018

European lawmakers are trying to sort out the legal future of AI and robots. Easier said than done.

Background: A 2017 European Parliament report suggested that advanced robots could be granted “electronic personalities.” This status could give robots access to certain kinds of insurance normally reserved for people and let them be held liable if they damage property or even “go rogue.”

Not so fast: In a letter to the European Commission due out today, over 150 experts from 14 EU countries warn that granting robots legal personhood would be “inappropriate” from a “legal and ethical perspective.” They argue that doing so would let manufacturers off the hook.

Legalese: Eventually, liability laws where the owner, the manufacturer, or both are responsible for accidents will need a refresh when truly autonomous robots come online. But that should be a long way off. In the meantime, one lawyer quoted in the Politico story says that giving robots similar legal rights to those held by companies could solve the problem.

Deep Dive

Artificial intelligence

AI for everything: 10 Breakthrough Technologies 2024

Generative AI tools like ChatGPT reached mass adoption in record time, and reset the course of an entire industry.

What’s next for AI in 2024

Our writers look at the four hot trends to watch out for this year

OpenAI teases an amazing new generative video model called Sora

The firm is sharing Sora with a small group of safety testers but the rest of us will have to wait to learn more.

Google’s Gemini is now in everything. Here’s how you can try it out.

Gmail, Docs, and more will now come with Gemini baked in. But Europeans will have to wait before they can download the app.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.