(C) CEPI 2014 - EN643 coverEuropean and U.S. Codes of Conduct for Development of Robotics and Artificial Intelligence

May 2016 (updated October 2016): The European Parliament's Committee on Legal Affairs (2016) has taken a further step towards a legal framework for the development of robotics, artificial intelligence, interconnected electronic devices, and applications of “big data”. A draft for a parliamentary resolution was published end of May which has been further discussed in August at Brussels. Meanwhile a similar initiative by the U.S. National Science and Technology Council (2016) is gaining momentum on the other side of the Atlantic. The proposals supersede the now famous laws of Asimov (1942) which are widely shared among industry developers of robots. However reliance on self-regulation reveals itself as obsolete given irresponsible governments, harmful applications, or technologies prematurely launched in the market.

The following extract from the draft (EP 2016) and the references provide the rationale why it is not anymore sufficient to leave the issues to self-regulation:

“General and ethical principles
The resolution establishes general as well as ethical principles concerning the development of robotics and AI for civil use. First, in order to properly address this development, a common definition of smart autonomous robots is fundamental. Furthermore, research in robotics and ICT as well as in the implications of their dissemination should be strengthened.
Second, in order to address the ethical principles, a Charter on Robotics is annexed to this resolution. This Charter consists of a Code of Ethical Conduct for Robotics Engineers, a Code for Research Ethics Committees and Licenses for Designers and Users. The proposed framework is in full compliance with the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights.
Moreover, the creation of a European Agency for robotics and AI is suggested. This agency should provide the necessary technical, ethical and regulatory expertise to support the relevant public actors.

Intellectual property rights, data protection and data ownership
The resolution calls on the Commission to come forward with a balanced approach to intellectual property rights when applied to hardware and software standards and codes that protect innovation and at the same time foster innovation. Moreover, the elaboration of criteria for "own intellectual creation" for copyrightable works produced by computers or robots is demanded.
The current insufficient legal framework on data protection and ownership is of great concern due to the (expected massive) flow of data arising from the use of robotics and AI.

Standardisation, safety and security
The increasing use of robots and AI requires European standardisation in order to avoid discrepancies between Member States and fragmentation of the European Union internal market.
Moreover, consumer concerns over safety and security related to the use of robots and AI need to be addressed. This resolution specifically underlines that testing robots in real-life scenarios is essential for the identification and assessment of the risks they might entail.”


Asimov I (1942): Runaround. New York: Street & Smith.

European Parliament Committee on Legal Affairs EP (2016): Motion for a European Parliament Resolution - with recommendations to the Commission on Civil Law Rules on Robotics. May 31: www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?pubRef=-//EP//NONSGML%2BCOMPARL%2BPE-582.443%2B01%2BDOC%2BPDF%2BV0//EN.

National Science and Technology Council Committee on Technology (2016): Preparing for the Future of Artificial Intelligence. Office of the President, October 12. Washington: https://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/.../preparing_for_the_future_of_ai.pdf.


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