Who Will Be Legally Responsible For Our New Robot Overlords?

Ryan Calo, a residential fellow at the Center for Internet & Society, is quoted in Above the Law's blog post on robotics and legal responsibility:

It’s almost 2010. 2010! The future is here!

So where, pray tell, are my freaking robots? When I was a kid, I was promised robots that would clean my house and prepare my meals and submit to my sexual perversions. Yet here we are, well into the 21st century, and there is not a robot slave to be found. What a ripoff. I’m so angry I feel like going back in time and killing John Connor.

I want my robot helpers, now. But the WSJ Law Blog and the San Francisco Chronicle tell me that I am nowhere near ready for the legal consequences of robots with access to home appliances and power tools. From the Law Blog:


As robots leave the factories and move into homes and businesses, there is going to be more and more interaction between regular people and increasingly more competent — and mobile — machines, said M. Ryan Calo, a residential fellow at the Stanford Center for Internet and Society. And more contact always means more problems, and the U.S. legal system better be prepared, he said.

“These are devices that don’t have a predetermined usage; they’re not toasters,” he said.

“There’s a growing concern now about robot ethics, but what’s missing from those discussions is pragmatic lawyers thinking about what’s going to happen in the future.”