Members of European Parliament (MEPs) have called out for robots and artificial intelligence (AI) to be regulated.

MEPs said EU-wide rules, such as enforcing ethical standards or establishing liability for potential accidents involving driverless cars, were necessary for the fast-evolving field.

The resolution, which took place yesterday and was passed by 396 votes to 123, comes after the publication of a report by the Legal Affairs Committee, which stated that regulation was necessary within the sector.

Additionally, MEPs asked the EU Commission to propose rules in order to fully exploit robotics and AI’s economic potential.

They also noted that regulatory standards for robots were already being planned out in several countries and highlighted the need for the EU to take the lead.

Ethical conduct

MEPs also raised concerns about ethical issues, particularly around the realm of privacy and safety.

In order to overcome this, MEPs proposed a voluntary ethical code of conduct on robotics for researchers and designers to make sure that they operate accordingly.

As part of their intervention, MEPs also asked the Commission to consider the creation of an European agency for robotics and AI.

The Commission will not be obliged to follow Parliament’s recommendations, but it must state its reasons if it refuses.

Robots in the public sector

The news comes after a report published by think tank Reform said that half a million public sector workers could stand to lose their jobs to robots over the next 15 years.

The same report, which said AI could help cut billions of pounds and drive efficiently across the public sector, also noted that today’s workforce is built around siloed attitudes of “yesterday’s governments” and fails to embrace technology and new ways of working.

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