AI facts

European parliamentary committee asks for AI kill switch

The legal affairs committee of the European parliament demands rules for how humans interact with artificial intelligence and robots. In a report the committee recommends intelligent robots to be equipped with an emergency kill switch to allow functions to be shut down if necessary.

Users should be able to use intelligent robots “without risk or fear of physical or psychological harm”, the committee states in the report. As a consequence technology companies may be required to register their robots as well as provide access to the source code to be able to investigate accidents and damage caused by robots.

Designers may also be required to obtain the go-ahead for new designs from a European research ethics committee. According to the parliamentary committee artificial intelligence has the potential for “virtually unbounded prosperity” but also raises concerns about job replacement by bots, privacy and about human dignity, particularly in relation to care robots.

The parliamentary committee also looks at whether to give robots a legal status analogous to corporate personhood. The report urges action as self-driving cars are fast becoming a reality and acknowledges that within a few decades AI could surpass human intelligence.

If European Members of Parliament vote in favour of the legislation it will go to individual governments for further debate before it becomes European Union law.