Robotics developers, academics, ethicists and lawmakers are deeply divided over the legal status of artificially intelligent androids able to speak, learn and move with a degree of autonomy.
At present, the creation of fully autonomous robots designed to replicate human appearance and thinking is not possible given the technology available.
Yet, the idea of giving AI cybrogs “personhood” has gained traction in recent years as technological advances have caused legal uncertainty.
The proposal to classify robots as “electronic persons” was first proposed in a draft report published by the EU parliament’s Committee on Legal Affairs in May 2016.
A debate about what rights robots should be given, if any at all, has ensued since the publication of the report, which dealt with issues surrounding the liability of self-learning machines.
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If the EU’s recommendations were to become law, self-learning robots would be granted status as “legal persons”, meaning they could be held liable for damages in court.
Legal experts opposed to the controversial proposals have claimed their implementation as a regulatory framework would effectively “grant human rights to robots”.
Last year, a sophisticated humanoid android called Sophia became the first robot in the world to be given citizenship by Saudi Arabia.