Laws on Robots, Laws by Robots, Laws in Robots: Regulating Robot Behaviour by Design

Ronald Leenes & Federica Lucivero, Laws on Robots, Laws by Robots, Laws in Robots: Regulating Robot Behaviour by Design, in Law, Innovation, and Technology, (2014) 6(2) LIT 194–222, DOI:

Speculation about robot morality is almost as old as the concept of the robot itself. Asimov’s three laws of robotics provide an early and widely discussed example of the moral rules that robots should observe. Despite the widespread influence of the three laws of robotics and their role in shaping visions of future robo-dense worlds, these laws have been neglected by hands-on roboticists, who have been busy addressing less abstract questions about robots’ behaviour concerning space locomotion, obstacle avoidance and automatic learning, amongst other things. However, robots should not only be able to perform these locomotive and haptic acts to function successfully in society; when robots enter our everyday lives they will also have to observe social and legal norms. For example, social robots in hospitals are expected to observe social rules, and robotic dust cleaners scouring the streets for waste as well as automated cars will have to observe traffic regulations. In this article we elaborate on the various ways in which robotic behaviour is regulated. We distinguish between imposing regulations on robots, imposing regulation by robots, and imposing regulation in robots. In doing this, we distinguish between regulation that aims at influencing human behaviour and regulation whose scope is robots’ behaviour. We claim that the artificial agency of robots requires designers and regulators to look at the issue of how to regulate robot behaviour in a way that renders it compliant with legal norms. Regulation by design offers a means for this. We further explore this idea through the example of automated cars.

Get your preprint copy here.

Comments are closed.