Robots May Pay Taxes Under European Proposals

robot europe human electronic person EU
A 2.4 meter tall robot called Cygan built in 1957 on display at the Science Museum, London, May 10. A report has proposed to classify robots as "electronic persons." Jack Taylor/Getty Images

Robots in Europe may soon be given legal rights and considered “electronic persons,” following a draft report from the European Parliament that aims to address the rise of automated workers.

Under the plans, bosses would be required to pay social security on their robot workers’ behalf, as well as adhere to new taxation rules and legal liability frameworks.  

“Humankind stands on the threshold of an era when ever more sophisticated robots, bots, androids and other manifestations of artificial intelligence (‘AI’) seem poised to unleash a new industrial revolution, which is likely to leave no stratum of society untouched,” the report stated. “It is vitally important for the legislature to consider all its implications.”

The report noted that robot sales had increased significantly in recent years, while annual patent filings for robotics technology have tripled over the last decade.

Speculation surrounding how robots may evolve into advanced artificial intelligence machines in  the future is also included in the report, which it warns may have severe consequences for humanity.

“Ultimately, there is a possibility that within the space of some decades artificial intelligence might surpass human intellectual capacity in a manner which, if not prepared for, could pose a challenge to humanity’s capacity to control its own creation and consequently perhaps also to its capacity to be in charge of its own destiny and to ensure the survival of its species,” the report stated.

Despite these radical forecasts, the report’s author called for a “gradualist, pragmatic, cautious approach” in developing regulation for robots, similar to that of the U.S. and Japan.

Before any regulatory plans are made legal, the draft report will have to pass through a vote by 751 Members of the European Parliament (MEPs).