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Consumption, Emissions and Security of Supplies
Issues and Challenges in an Era of Converging Technologies
Bharat Rao, Adam J. Harrison and Bala Mulloth
F. Patrick Hubbard
As they become increasingly mobile, sophisticated robots will transform the way we live. They will have higher levels of connectivity, autonomy, and intelligence. They will also have the potential to cause serious bodily harm to individuals. The existing legal system is an efficient, fair system to provide compensation to those injured by robots and correctly balances the need for innovation with the concern for physical safety. The chapter first discusses the need for technological innovation and summarizes current approaches to safety design. Currently, liability law attempts to balance the concern for physical safety with the desire for innovation. It does so by making sellers liable for injuries caused by a failure to use a safer approach where it costs less than the injuries it prevents. Sophisticated robots undoubtedly present difficulties for allocating responsibility for injuries on the basis of fault. Robots may have emergent or unpredictable learned behavior, interconnection with other sophisticated technology and systems, and use technology made from multiple suppliers of hardware and software. These issues can be addressed by current legal doctrines through existing liability analysis and supported by the use of expert testimony. The author recommends that innovators should design machines with product safety analyses in mind, provide warnings, push for both private and governmental standards, and decide on the appropriate mix of product liability insurance and self-insurance for their products. Proposals for alternative systems, such as no-fault insurance schemes or limiting liability through immunity or pre-emption, assume that the current system is problematic and that it should be addressed in a way that abandons the concern for balance. The current liability-based system for product-caused injury is balanced, fair, efficient, and flexible enough to adapt to the increased sophistication of robots.
Diana Marina Cooper
Open robots may be more problematic than their closed counterparts from a legal and ethical perspective. The lack of ability to constrain use of the technology in certain downstream applications makes it difficult for open robot manufacturers to minimize unethical use of their technologies. Some form of intervention is required if the industry is to adopt a “sufficiently open” model and fulfill the goal of achieving “a robot in every home.” This chapter makes the case for adopting a licensing approach that deviates from traditional open licences by imposing certain restrictions on downstream modification and use, in order to allocate liability between manufacturers and users. The author explores the obstacles to mainstream adoption of a “sufficiently open” model, including the concerns about physical harm, social harm, and privacy implications. Proposed measures to overcome these barriers have included providing selective immunity to manufacturers and distributors of open robots. The author suggests that Ryan Calo’s proposal, to grant selective immunity to open robot manufacturers, be supplemented with a licensing approach to regulation. Readers are presented with the Ethical Robot License (ERL), a preliminary license draft that acts as a starting point in the discussion of ethical licensing of open robots. The proper scope of the licence, operationalization of the license, and analogous contexts demonstrating where ethics have been infused into commercial transactions, are outlined and discussed. This approach aims to reduce the scope and scale of harmful and unethical use of open robots through the establishment of obligations and restrictions on downstream applications and operating environments. The license allocates liability, requires insurance, and allows for increased remedies.