Europe's robots to become 'electronic persons' under draft plan


MUNICH, Germany (Reuters) - Europe’s growing army of robot workers could be classed as “electronic persons” and their owners liable to paying social security for them if the European Union adopts a draft plan to address the realities of a new industrial revolution.

Robots are being deployed in ever-greater numbers in factories and also taking on tasks such as personal care or surgery, raising fears over unemployment, wealth inequality and alienation.

Their growing intelligence, pervasiveness and autonomy requires rethinking everything from taxation to legal liability, a draft European Parliament motion, dated May 31, suggests.

Some robots are even taking on a human form. Visitors to the world’s biggest travel show in March were greeted by a lifelike robot developed by Japan’s Toshiba <6502.T> and were helped by another made by France’s Aldebaran Robotics.

However, Germany’s VDMA, which represents companies such as automation giant Siemens and robot maker Kuka , says the proposals are too complicated and too early.

German robotics and automation turnover rose 7 percent to 12.2 billion euros ($13.8 billion) last year and the country is keen to keep its edge in the latest industrial technology. Kuka is the target of a takeover bid by China’s Midea <000333.SZ>.

The draft motion called on the European Commission to consider “that at least the most sophisticated autonomous robots could be established as having the status of electronic persons with specific rights and obligations”.

It also suggested the creation of a register for smart autonomous robots, which would link each one to funds established to cover its legal liabilities.

Patrick Schwarzkopf, managing director of the VDMA’s robotic and automation department, said: “That we would create a legal framework with electronic persons - that’s something that could happen in 50 years but not in 10 years.”

“We think it would be very bureaucratic and would stunt the development of robotics,” he told reporters at the Automatica robotics trade fair in Munich, while acknowledging that a legal framework for self-driving cars would be needed soon.



Funny, I thought it was June, not the first of April…

Oh, wait, it’s always the right time of year for adding to bureaucracy and coming up with new things to tax.



It is kind of sad when machines will get the rights of personhood long before the unborn ever will.

It shows what a society most values.


If this kind of legislation does not get people voting for the Brexit option, nothing will.


My thoughts as well.


From the article:
"The report added that robotics and artificial intelligence may result in a large part of the work now done by humans being taken over by robots, raising concerns about the future of employment and the viability of social security systems.

The draft motion, drawn up by the European parliament’s committee on legal affairs also said organizations should have to declare savings they made in social security contributions by using robotics instead of people, for tax purposes."

The article seems to be linking personhood to the creation of capital.
Our culture increasingly devalues the lives of those -the preborn, young, elderly, infirm, and handicapped who are less capable of independently producing value.
At the same time, we are encountering increased support for the commodification of body parts (from DNA, to sperm, eggs, wombs, organs and corneas).
One might wonder if capitalism is becoming a false god, and humanity a sacrifice to its development?


…and once the artificial life form no longer contributes capital when they are in their ‘golden years’, you merely need to shut them off…less costly on the social security system. :shrug:


With the acceptance of euthanasia, and the costs of recycling in a green economy, there is less and less difference on that account.


C.S. Lewis’ novel That Hideous Strength had some odd ideas in it, but one that gave me food for thought was the Devil’s hatred for organic life and the lack of control it affords.

We live in an age of utilitarianism. The other day, someone raised the interesting point that when we meet someone, we usually ask where they work, not what they like. Interestingly enough, I hear children asking others what they like. I prefer that myself, though I’ve fallen into asking what people do. Tie that into Saint JPII’s famous saying that the opposite of love isn’t hatred, but use. I forget who it was that said the Mass is about the most “useless” thing we can do, but the most worthwhile.


I have noticed that too, Whenever I meet new people the first question is usually ‘what do you do’ (short for what is your job), and our jobs become our life, who we are.

I think Im going to start answering that question with something other than my official job title and the company I work for, instead I will try to describe myself as a person, after all, my job is not my life.


Given the trends, one might anticipate that once the human reaches his or her ‘golden years’ they are more likely to be viewed as non-persons and dismissed under the guise of quality of life issues.
This too, will save money for the social security system.


I get asked how I am, which implies their idea of what is par.

I don’t ask anyone how they are - I can see that - I just accept them.


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