Robotic Regulation or Natural Liability?

Also in Time Magazine’s current issue, Massimo Calabresi writes a good summary called Regulate the Robots, noting that autonomy and robotics is moving headlong into a future where today’s regulations are ill-fitted to tomorrow’s autonomous systems. Who will be responsible when an autonomous car and a conventional automobile have an accident? And how will juries pick this apart? Calabresi suggests that regulation is the answer- and that, just maybe, autonomous cars should be sold with the cost of liability insurance imputed in the price. Of course, the messy reality is that autonomous cars aren’t. They’re just sometimes autonomous for a whole lot of years yet, and that means there will even be truckloads of accidents during that transition time when the driver is giving control to the car-bot, or taking control from it. That will be a classic whodunit story, as drivers might just start saying “no no- I thought the car was driving!” and the car responding “Heck no- John was driving. Definitely.”  Stay tuned for more robot-human arguments in the futures we face.

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