OPEN LETTER TO THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION
ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE AND ROBOTICS

Sign the letter

We, Artificial Intelligence and Robotics Experts, industry leaders, law, medical and ethics experts, confirm that establishing EU-wide rules for Robotics and Artificial Intelligence is pertinent to guarantee a high level of safety and security to the European Union citizens while fostering innovation.

As human-robot interactions become common place, the European Union needs to offer the appropriate framework to reinforce Democracy and European Union values. In fact, the Artificial Intelligence and Robotics framework must be explored not only through economic and legal aspects, but also through its societal, psychological and ethical impacts. In this context, we are concerned by the European Parliament Resolution on Civil Law Rules of Robotics, and its recommendation to the European Commission in its paragraph 59 f):

“Creating a specific legal status for robots in the long run, so that at least the most sophisticated autonomous robots could be established as having the status of electronic persons responsible for making good any damage they may cause, and possibly applying electronic personality to cases where robots make autonomous decisions or otherwise interact with third parties independently;”

We believe that:

1. The economical, legal, societal and ethical impact of AI and Robotics must be considered without haste or bias. The benefit to all humanity should preside over the framework for EU civil law rules in Robotics and Artificial Intelligence.

2. The creation of a Legal Status of an “electronic person” for “autonomous”, “unpredictable” and “self-learning” robots is justified by the incorrect affirmation that damage liability would be impossible to prove.

From a technical perspective, this statement offers many bias based on an overvaluation of the actual capabilities of even the most advanced robots, a superficial understanding of unpredictability and self-learning capacities and, a robot perception distorted by Science-Fiction and a few recent sensational press announcements.

From an ethical and legal perspective, creating a legal personality for a robot is inappropriate whatever the legal status model:

a. A legal status for a robot can’t derive from the Natural Person model, since the robot would then hold human rights, such as the right to dignity, the right to its integrity, the right to remuneration or the right to citizenship, thus directly confronting the Human rights. This would be in contradiction with the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union and the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.

b. The legal status for a robot can’t derive from the Legal Entity model, since it implies the existence of human persons behind the legal person to represent and direct it. And this is not the case for a robot.

c. The legal status for a robot can’t derive from the Anglo-Saxon Trust model also called Fiducie or Treuhand in Germany. Indeed, this regime is extremely complex, requires very specialized competences and would not solve the liability issue. More importantly , it would still imply the existence of a human being as a last resort – the trustee or fiduciary – responsible for managing the robot granted with a Trust or a Fiducie.

Consequently, we affirm that

> The European Union must prompt the development of the AI and Robotics industry insofar as to limit health and safety risks to human beings. The protection of robots’ users and third parties must be at the heart of all EU legal provisions.

> The European Union must create an actionable framework for innovative and reliable AI and Robotics to spur even greater benefits for the European peoples and its common market.

TO ADD YOUR NAME TO THE BELOW EU SIGNATORIES:

  • Professional organization, ethics committee, syndicates, industrial federation, IEEE or else …
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THE SIGNATORIES

EU SIGNATORIES

> Nathalie Nevejans, Lecturer in Law, University of Artois (France), Member of the CNRS Ethics Committee COMETS. Expert in Ethics in Robotics at the European Parliament, Member of the Institute for the Study of Man-Robot Relations (IERHR).

> Raja Chatila, Institute of Intelligent Systems and Robotics – Sorbonne University and CNRS Professor (France). Director of the Institute of Intelligent Systems and Robotics (ISIR). Former President of the IEEE Robotics and Automation Society (2014-2015). Member of the French Commission on the Ethics of Research on Digital Science and Technology (CERNA). Chair of the IEEE Global Initiative on Ethics of Autonomous and Intelligence Systems

> Jozef GlasaChair Ethics Committee, Ministry of Health (Slovak Republic); Delegate Member, Committee on Bioethics (DH-BIO, formerly CDBI), Council of Europe; Slovak Medical University in Bratislava, Institute of Health Care Ethics/Institute of Clinical and Experimental Pharmacology Head/Deputy Head. Professor of Laboratory Medicine

> Noel Sharkey, Emeritus Professor AI and Robotics (United Kingdom) Foundation for Responsible Robotics

> Alexandre Pereira, Faculty of Law Professor at University of Coimbra, (Portugal). IT Law & Cybersecurity researcher and professor.

> Sanja Dogramadzi, Professor of Medical Robotics at UWE, Bristol Robotics Laboratory (United Kingdom). Member of British Standard Institute contributing to developments of Robotics standards for Service and Medical Robotics

> Véronique Aubergé, CNRS Researcher at LIG Grenoble (France). Scientific Head of Living Lab DOMUS-LI, Scientific co-Head of Robo’ethics Rectorate of Grenoble, INP Foundation President of Ethics Comittee for Social Robotics of SFTAG.

> Max Dauchet, Emeritus professor, University of Lille (France) – Chair of the French Commission on the Ethics of Research on Digital Science and Technology (CERNA)

> Wolfgang M. Schröder, Professor of Philosophy, Institute for Systematic Theology, University of Würzburg (Germany) – Member of the AG Digital Ethics / Initiative D21 Berlin – Member of the FAG Political Theory & Philosophy, DGPhil.

> Hugues Bersini, Professor of Artificial Intelligence, co-Director of Institute or Interdisciplinary Research and AI Development IRIDIA , Université Libre of Brussels ULB (Belgium) – Member of the Belgium Academy of Science

> Georg Martius, Research Group Leader Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems (MPG) (Germany)

> Koen Hindriks, Interactive Robotics Associate Professor Interactive Intelligence at Delft University of Technology (Netherlands) – CEO of Interactive Robotics

> Ulrich Borgolte, Senior lecturer in Robotics and Mechatronics at FernUniversität in Hagen (Germany)

> Benjamin Frugier, Executive Director of French Federation of Mechanical Engineering Industries FEM (France). The FEM is in charge of economic and technical interests of 25 trade associations, representing companies in the three following fields: Equipment, Transformation and Precision

> Gyorgy Cserey, Head of the Sensory Robotics Lab. at the Faculty of Information Technology and Bionics at Pazmany Peter Catholic University Associate professor (Hungary)

> Domenico G. Sorrenti, Bicocca Associate Professor, Dept. Computer Science, Universita di Milano (Italy) – Head of the Robotic Perception Laboratory

> Margo Dessertenne, Trade groups manager at Symop Robotics (France). Symop is a French professional organization gathering 270 SME enterprises and large corporations in Automation, robotics, …

 > Lionel Sublet, CEO, Techplus , Symop Robotic Group General Manager (France).

> Yves Poullet, Dean and Emeritus Professor of Law, University of Namur and Catholic University of Lille (Belgium). Expert in ethics at UNESCO and Council of Europe

> Laurence Devillers, Professor of Artificial Intelligence at Sorbonne University, (France) Researcher at LIMSI « Computer Science Laboratory for Mechanics and Engineering Sciences », CNRS, Member of the French Commission on the Ethics of Research on Digital Science and Technology (CERNA), Member of the IEEE Global Initiative on Ethics of Autonomous and Intelligence Systems.

> Jean-Claude Heudin, Professor of Artificial Intelligence, University Paris Sud (France), Former Director and co-founder of the Institute of Internet and Multimedia, Expert to the European Union on the «Future Emerging technologies» project.

> Ante Čović, Director at the Centre of excellence for Integrative Bioethics, Vice-Rector for Organisation, Human Resources Development and Cross-University Cooperation (Croatia). .

> Serge Tisseron, Psychiatrist, Université Paris VII Denis Diderot (France) – Member of the Academy of Technologies (Institute for the Study of Robot-Human relationship, IERHR)

> Jean-Paul Laumond, CNRS Research Director (France). Member of the French Academy of Technologies and the French Academy of Sciences

> Jasna Lipozenčić, President of the Academy of Medical Sciences of Croatia (Croatia)

> John Michael Robson, Emeritus Professor, University of Bordeaux (France). Researcher in Algorithms, Distributed Computing and Theory of Computation at LaBRI (Laboratory of Bordeaux Research in Computing)

> Joanna Bryson, Reader (Associate Professor), University of Bath (United Kingdom). Expert in both AI, safety and transparency in intelligent systems, and AI ethics.

> Alan Winfield, Professor of Robot Ethics at UWE Bristol, Robotics Laboratory, (United Kingdom).  Member of the British Standards Institute working group on Robot Ethics​; Member of the EC Human Brain Project​ Ethics Advisory Board; Member, Executive committee, IEEE Global Initiative on Ethics of Autonomous and Intelligence Systems and Chair, IEEE Standards Working Group P7001 on Transparency in Autonomous Systems; Member, WEF Global Futures ​Council on ​The Future of Technology, Values and Policy​

> Kathleen  Richardson, Professor of Ethics and Culture of Robots and AI, De Montfort University (United Kingdom), Founder of the Campaign Against Sex Robots

> Miguel Enrique Burguete, PhD. Professor of Philosophical Anthropology and Biopolitics, Institute of Life Sciences and Observatory of Bioethics of the Catholic University of Valencia (Spain)

> Calum  MacKellar, Director of Research, Scottish Council on Human Bioethics, Ethics Committee (Scotland)

> Richard  Everson, Professor of Machine Learning , University of Exeter (United Kingdom), Director of the Exeter University Institute for Data Science and Artificial Intelligence

> Richard   Ashcroft, Professor of Bioethics, School of Law, Queen Mary University of London (United Kingdom), Director of the LLM in Medical Law

> Isabelle  Poirot-Mazères, Public law and Heath Professor University of Toulouse I Capitole, (France)

> Thierry Magnin, Professor in Ethics of Sciences and Technologies, Rector of the Lyon Catholic University (France). Member of The French National Academy of Technologies.

> Jean-Michel Besnier, Emeritus Philosophy Professor at University of Paris-Sorbonne, (France), Member of CNRS and INRA Ethics Committees.

 > Christopher Markou, The University of Cambridge, Lecturer (United Kingdom). Legal Expert Committee, Responsible for Robotics.

> David Doat, Chair of Ethics & Transhumanism, Chair of Lille Catholic University (France)

> Rónán Kennedy, Lecturer in Law, National University of Ireland Galway (Ireland).

 

WHY YOU SHOULD SIGN:

The European Commission has planned to issue a communication on Robotics and AI as a consequence of the Resolution on Civil Law Rules of Robotics Resolution.

If you are :
> From one of the 28 Member-States of the European Union

> An AI/ Robotics Scientist or manufacturer, a University Scholar in Law, Medicine, a Member of a Professional Organization or of an Ethics Committee

> Concerned by the way Artificial Intelligence and Robots will change our daily lives and our civil, commercial and criminal laws

Please join us in the Open Letter to protect EU innovation, EU values as well as human safety, security and health.

WHO IS THIS ROBOTICS OPEN LETTER ADDRESSED TO:

This Robotics Open Letter is addressed to the European Commission and namely:

European Commission President – Jean Claude Juncker
Commissioner Research, Science and Innovation – Carlos Moedas
Commissioner Digital Economy and Society – Mariya Gabriel
Commissioner Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality – Věra Jourová
Commissioner Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility – Marianne Thyssen
Commissioner Transport – Violeta Bulc
Directorate General CONNECT
Directorate General GROW
Directorate General JUST
Directorate General RTD

CIVIL LAW RULES ON ROBOTICS

On February 16 2017, the European Parliament adopted a Resolution on Civil Law Rules of Robotics.

This resolution reads in its paragraph 59 f) : “Creating a specific legal status for robots in the long run, so that at least the most sophisticated autonomous robots could be established as having the status of electronic persons responsible for making good any damage they may cause, and possibly applying electronic personality to cases where robots make autonomous decisions or otherwise interact with third parties independently;”

In fact, a delegating amendment for §59 f) was tabled and 285 Members of Parliament voted in favor of its deletion.

Prior to the vote, Mrs Delvaux the Luxemburgese Member of the European Parliament who drafted the Resolution, wrote a communication to all members of Parliament clarifying her intentions in the Resolution:

“In the long run, determining responsibility in case of an accident will probably become increasingly complex as the most sophisticated autonomous and self-learning robots will be able to take decision which cannot be traced back to a human agent. For these cases, the report asks the Commission to carry out an impact assessment for a compulsory insurance scheme, which includes the possible idea of giving the legal status of an electronic personality to robots in order to facilitate compensation for victims when human responsibility cannot be fully attributed. Liability is in fact a central part of this report, because it is indispensable for citizens’ trust.”

WHO ARE WE ?

We are Political Leaders, AI/robotics researchers and industry leaders, Physical and Mental Health specialists, Law and Ethics experts gathered to voice our concern about the negative consequences of a legal status approach for robots in the European Union.

Fostering an actionable framework for civil law rules on robotics and AI consequently addressing the issue of liability of “autonomous” robots is our goal. However, we believe that creating a legal status of electronic “person” would be ideological and non-sensical and non-pragmatic.

The European Economic and Social Committee clearly stated in its opinion “The consequences of Artificial Intelligence on the (digital) single market, production, consumption, employment and society” §3.33 that they were opposed to any form of legal status for robots or AI.

Similarly, UNESCO’s COMEST * report on Robotics Ethics of 2017, share a similar point of view : in the article 201 where they find “highly counterintuitive to call them ‘persons’ as long as they do not possess some additional qualities typically associated with human persons, such as freedom of will, intentionality, self-consciousness, moral agency or a sense of personal identity. It should be mentioned in this context, however, that the Committee on Legal Affairs of the European Parliament, in its 2016 Draft Report with recommendations to the Commission on Civil Law Rules on Robotics, already considers the possibility of “creating a specific legal status for robots, so that at least the most sophisticated autonomous robots could be established as having the status of electronic persons with specific rights and obligations, including that of making good any damage they may cause, and applying electronic personality to cases where robots make smart autonomous decisions or otherwise interact with third parties independently” (JURI, 2016, section 59.f).

* : COMEST is the World Commission on the Ethics of Scientific Knowledge and Technology from UNESCO