Humans Vs Robots: Don't Give Advanced Machines Rights, AI Experts Warn

Despite appearances, experts do not think that robots should have rights as "electronic persons." A robot in Spain. Pau Barrena/AFP/Getty

Despite how human-like they may act and appear, giving rights to robots may not be the best move. That was the consensus of 150 experts who weighed in on the discussion on Thursday, in light of the European Parliament's recent question of whether or not robots need special rights.

A team of 150 experts in robotics, artificial intelligence, law, medical science and ethics wrote an open letter to the European Union advising that robots not be given special legal status as "electric persons," CNN reported. The letter says that giving robots human rights would be unhelpful.

"From an ethical and legal perspective, creating a legal personality for a robot is inappropriate whatever the legal status model," the letter states. The experts go on to claim that public perception of a robot is distorted by "Science-Fiction and a few recent sensational press announcements."

One of the reasons listed for denying robots these rights are that machines currently cannot take part in society without a human operator, and therefore cannot have their own rights. Giving a robot rights might allow an operator to claim that they are not responsible for a robot, and therefore not responsible for what a robot does.

In addition, giving a robot rights could mean that one day they must be paid for their work or given citizenship, the group says.

In addition, the letter states the benefit to humanity should preside over all the framework for any civil laws involving robots and artificial intelligence. Due to this, the protection of robot users and third parties should hold precedence in any talks about robotic rights.

The suggestion comes from an ongoing debate within Europe of whether or not to grant status to forms of artificial intelligence. The European Commission will present its initiative on artificial intelligence at the end of the month, CNN reported.