Jan 13, 2017

The EU is voting on the future of robots

Jae C. Hong / AP

Members of the European Parliament have put together a report calling for new legislation on how humans will interact with artificial intelligence and robots. It looks at whether robots should be given legal status as "electronic persons," and states that designers should ensure that all robots have a kill switch — in case things go haywire.

Why this matters: Europe is more aggressive than the U.S. about regulating technology, and they're hoping to get a jumpstart on laying the ground rules for (what that they see as) an upcoming industrial revolution that is likely to "leave no stratum of society untouched."

The BBC has reported the full breakdown, but here are the main takeaways:

  • There is a strong possibility that within the space of a few decades, AI could surpass human intellectual capacity.
  • If robots become self-aware, Issac Asimov's "Three Laws" will kick in.
  • Robotic research should be conducted in the interests of the wellbeing of humans.
  • Designers may be required to register their robots and provide access to their source codes.
  • New robotic designs will need the go-ahead from a research ethics committee.
  • A European agency for robotics and artificial intelligence will be created to provide technical, ethical and regulatory expertise.
  • Producers or owners may be required to take out insurance to cover the damage potentially caused by their robot.

What's next: MEPs still need to vote on the legislation, but if it's approved it'll go to individual governments for further debate before becoming EU law.

Go deeper

Medicaid will be a coronavirus lifeline

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Medicaid will be a lifeline for droves of Americans affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

Why it matters: Medicaid has long been the safety net that catches people during hard times, but a crisis of this magnitude will call upon the program — and strain states' budgets — like never before.

Axios-Ipsos Coronavirus Index: Rich sheltered, poor shafted amid virus

Data: Axios/Ipsos survey. Margin of error ±2.8 points for full sample. Margin for subgroups ranges from ±5 to ±9 points. Chart: Naema Ahmed/Axios

The coronavirus is spreading a dangerous strain of inequality.

  • Better-off Americans are still getting paid and are free to work from home, while the poor are either forced to risk going out to work or lose their jobs.

Driving the news: This sobering reality emerges from Week 3 of our Axios-Ipsos Coronavirus Index.

Go deeperArrow18 mins ago - Health

How the pandemic will reshape cities

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The coronavirus pandemic will leave its mark on urban centers long after the outbreak itself recedes.

Why it matters: The most densely populated cities are ground zero for the virus' rapid spread and highest death tolls — and they're also likely to be pioneers in making lasting changes to help prevent the same level of devastation in the future.

Go deeperArrow18 mins ago - Health