The Royal Academy of Engineering in the UK says that the imminent rise of autonomous and semi-autonomous cars, robotic surgeons, planes, war machines, software agents, and public transport systems raises important ethical and legal questions:
Professor Stewart and report co-author Chris Elliott remain convinced that autonomous systems will prove, on average, to be better surgeons and better lorry drivers than humans are.
But when they are not, it could lead to a legal morass, they said.
“If a robot surgeon is actually better than a human one, most times you’re going to be better off with a robot surgeon,” Dr Elliott said. “But occasionally it might do something that a human being would never be so stupid as to do.”
Professor Stewart concluded: “It is fundamentally a big issue that we think the public ought to think through before we start trying to imprison a truck.”
And when and if true AI or artificial general human-level intelligences show up, will they commit crimes, and if so, who will be responsible?