How Should the Legal System Handle Robot Crime?

It’s only a matter of time. If botnets are already being used to commit cybercrime, soon robots themselves may become common tools of criminals. The question is, how will the law address this when it inevitably happens?

Michael Kassner writes, “What happens when criminals figure out how to use robots to commit crimes? Christopher Markou, a PhD candidate and Faculty of Law at the University of Cambridge, takes a look at the disturbing possibility in ‘We could soon face a robot crimewave … the law needs to be ready,’ a commentary he wrote for The Conversation.

“‘How do we make sense of all this?’ asks Markou. ‘Should we be terrified? Generally unproductive. Should we shrug our shoulders as a society and get back to Netflix? Tempting, but no. Should we start making plans for how we deal with all of this? Absolutely.’

“For starters, Markou is curious how fault is determined when a robot does something considered illegal. For example, is it right the U.S. government absolved Tesla Motors of any responsibility after a driver was killed when his autopiloted Tesla crashed? How about the robot that was arrested and then released for buying drugs in Switzerland?

“Successfully wading through the can-of-worms of determining culpability seems impossible. However, Markou, in his commentary, mentions something mildly reassuring. He writes that little if any thought was given to who owned the sky before the Wright brothers achieved their first sustained flight of a powered, heavier-than-air aircraft. ‘Time and time again, the law is presented with novel ideas,’ he explains. ‘And despite initial overreaction, it got there in the end. Simply put: the law evolves.’”

Read the full article.