Thursday, March 19, 2015

Arresting Robots?

Excellent article over at

Perhaps our legal system can assuage these fears somewhat. "Criminal law plays an important role in giving people a sense of personal confidence," Hallevy writes. "If any individual or group is not subject to the criminal law, the personal confidence of the other individuals is severely harmed because those who are not subject to the criminal law have no incentive to obey the law." But if we understand that drug-buying bots and self-driving cars must abide by the same rules we all follow, and face similar punishments when they transgress, perhaps some of our anxieties about their potential behavior will dissipate.
Is this perspective fair to robots, though? Essentially, it puts them on the same level as people, even though they're clearly not human. The robot that killed Robert Williams in 1979 had no conception of morality. Neither did the ecstasy-buying bot.
In Hallevy's estimation, such concerns are unfounded. "Criminal liability does not require that offenders possess all human capabilities, only some," he writes. "If an AI entity possesses these capabilities, then logically and rationally, criminal liability can be imposed whenever an offense is committed."
Are Robots and robotic machinations to be held to the same standard of criminal culpability as humans? Can they be convicted of a crime? Who is responsible if a drunk person is in a cab driven by a robot?

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