Global giant ponders role of Russian robots

A law firm has composed a draft law for Russia that would allow robots to act as agents for human beings

Global giant ponders role of Russian robots

The idea of robots doing everyday chores for humans – from grocery shopping to representing people in business transactions – was once the stuff of science fiction. But as the science of robotics advances, the day when that sci-fi future becomes reality is drawing ever closer. It’s close enough, in fact, that a law firm has already helped a government draft regulations for when that day arrives.

Dentons has developed the concept for the first draft law on robots in Russia, which the government aims to enact early next year.

It is hoped that the draft will trigger discussion on comprehensive legislative regulation of robotics. The draft is centred on the concept that robots can be considered both property – similar to how animals can be considered – and as independent human agents.

The document, commissioned by Grishin Robotics, is primarily aimed at starting a discussion on how to regulate robots in the context of preparing how they will be rolled out for use in daily life. It has already been sent to Russia’s scientific and academic institutions for feedback.

The draft law defines robot agents as intended to participate in civil commerce and says that general rules on property will apply to them unless otherwise established. Civil legislation on legal entities may be applied by analogy to civil law relations with robot agents, according to the draft.

It also defines that the owner and possessor of the robot will bear responsibility for the actions of the robot agent once responsibility has been transferred from the robot’s manufacturer or maintainer.

Robot agents are also given the authority by the draft law to act on behalf of an owner or possessor as representative, once they are fully regarded as robot agents. The draft also mandates the creation of a unified state register of robot agents. Registration as well as a public announcement from the owner is mandatory for a robot to be deemed a robot agent and be vested with legal capacity.

Robot agents can participate in civil commerce, but only to the extent established by the robotics authority of the Russian Federation. A robot agent will also represent its own interest in civil commerce independently, the draft says.

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