Recent titles that claim ‘Robot Kills Man in Germany’ are examples of increasing media coverage about the impact of robotic systems on our society, which is exactly the subject of a new law analysis piece by a University of Washington faculty member.

“Technology has not stood still. The same private institutions that developed the Internet, from the armed forces to search engines, have initiated a significant shift toward robotics and artificial intelligence,” writes Calo in “Robotics and the Lessons of Cyberlaw.” His article, published in June in the California Law Review, is among the first to examine what the introduction of robotics and artificial intelligence means for law and policy.

Robotics, Calo adds, is shaping up to be the next transformative technology of our time: “Courts that struggled for the proper metaphor to apply to the Internet will struggle anew with robotics.”

Though mention of robotics and artificial intelligence can prompt images of unstoppable Terminators and mutinous HAL 9000 computers, Calo dismisses such drama early on. “And yet,” he adds, “the widespread distribution of robotics in society will, like the Internet, create deep social, cultural, economic and of course legal tensions” long before any such sci-fi-style future.

To Calo, robotics is essentially different than the Internet and so will raise different legal issues.

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