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Robotics: no longer the stuff of legends

Therese COMODINI CACHIA
13.02.2017 - 19:30
Robot

Just imagine: you wake up in the morning, you have breakfast, open a mobile app, call an automated car to take you to work and pay from the app itself. Then in the evening to go back home you do the same thing again. 

This will happen and it will happen in the not too distant future. Here’s why.

First because it is already partially happening. We call and pay Uber via a mobile app already.

In the next few years, transport will be on demand and will mostly be by robocars. In the next year or so, we will start seeing robocars being tested on our highways.

Secondly, for those of us living in European cities, traffic congestion and finding parking spots next to the office, is a headache. So, is there a need for automated cars and buses?

Yes, there is. In the next few years, transport will be on demand and will mostly be by robocars. If you think this is the stuff of science fiction, think again. In the next year or so, we will start seeing robocars being tested on our highways!

Automation of our daily life throws up ethical and legal questions

But all this, practical as it might seem, does throw up a lot of legal and ethical questions. Let’s say, for example, that a robocar, registered in Belgium, crosses from Belgium to France. If it is involved in a traffic accident in France, will it have the same legal liability in France?

The European Parliament is calling for a pan-European policy on robotics, setting the ethical limits in order to protect us humans first

In order to answer these legal and other ethical questions, the European Parliament is calling for a pan-European policy on robotics, setting the ethical limits in order to protect us humans first.

The European Parliament is the first Parliament in the world to express its views on the subject. Clearly, the EU is leading in this domain and this only bodes well for our citizens because it creates jobs, wealth and economic growth.

The European Parliament is the first Parliament in the world to express its views on the subject

Laying the groundwork for future legislation on robotics

This week, the European Parliament is going to approve a non-legislative report, not only on robotics but also on Artificial Intelligence (AI). It is essentially sets out view of the European Parliament and forms the groundwork for future legislation on the issue.

The report will allow other EU institutions, like the European Commission and EU governments in the European Council, to know exactly what the European Parliament position is so that any EU civil law proposed in the future will take into account its reaction.

We want the EU to embrace robotics and AI and also want the EU to guarantee full respect for fundamental rights as enshrined in the Treaties

We want the EU to embrace robotics and AI and also want the EU to guarantee full respect for fundamental rights as enshrined in the Treaties.

This report also provides recommendations to the European Commission and covers a wide range of issues, such as liability rules, ethical questions, standardisation, safety and security, data protection, autonomous vehicles, care and medical robots, human repair and enhancement, drones or education and employment.

The creation of EU-wide rules on robotics is a necessary step forward to allow full exploitation of the economic potential of the sector, to promote growth and innovation, and to protect and create more jobs

The creation of EU-wide rules on robotics is a necessary step forward to allow full exploitation of the economic potential of the sector, to promote growth and innovation, and to protect and create more jobs. 

And frankly speaking, robotics is upon us. It’s no longer the stuff of legends. We will have to learn how to live with robots and robotics, whether we like it or not.

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