I’m in the middle of writing a paper on liability for harm caused by (or with) personal robots. The paper grows out of a panel that Dan Siciliano and I organized around the present, near future, and far future of robotics and the law. I’ve recently received some media coverage that, while welcome and accurate, presents a danger of oversimplifying my position. Specifically, a few people have understood my remarks to suggest that manufacturers should enjoy total immunity for the personal robots they build and sell, merely because doing otherwise would chill innovation.
This post develops my position in a little more detail. On my view, robotics manufacturers should be immune from certain theories of civil liability—particularly those premised on the range of a robot’s functionality. I don’t believe that the law should bar accountability for roboticists in all instances. Nor am I by any means certain that my suggestion represents the exact right way to handle liability. But I am convinced that we should talk about the issue. The alternative is to risk missing out on a massive global advance in technology capable of substantially better our world. Read more about Robotics & The Law: Liability For Personal Robots