• Switzerland's news in English
Swiss lawyer warns of deadly threat from robots
File photo: Eric Piermont/AFP

Swiss lawyer warns of deadly threat from robots

The Local · 2 Jun 2016, 10:53

Published: 02 Jun 2016 10:53 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

On Wednesday Sébastien Fanti, a lawyer from the canton of Valais, presented the first international treaty on the rights of robots at a conference in Shanghai, reported daily Le Matin.

The Lexing conference brought together lawyers from all over the world to discuss the legal implications of robotics and related areas.

According to Fanti, the law is falling behind technology, which could have serious consequences for the use of robots in daily life, such as driverless cars.

“If the algorithm must choose between braking and killing the passenger who is isn’t wearing a seatbelt or running over the pedestrian on the crossing, what will it do?,” Fanti told the paper.

Switzerland is at the forefront of the driverless vehicle revolution, with the city of Sion in the Valais being one of the first towns in the world to pilot driverless buses on the streets.

As well as protecting us from machines, the treaty would apply in reverse, too.

Fanti, who owns a robot himself and has observed people's reactions to it, pointed out that many people don’t consider certain robots as machines or objects “because they have too much autonomy”.

As such, we must learn to live together and put laws in place to protect both human and robot, warned Fanti.

“In ten years I think there will be some abuse towards robots. We must have laws, otherwise it will be a real shambles,” he said.

Fanti’s published text outlines the challenges that robots present and compares the current varying responses of 17 countries, including Switzerland.

An international treaty on the subject is necessary  to “standardize the rules at international level because the robots could be made in China but used in the entire world,” he told Le Matin.

Story continues below…

“Robots are the future and they will be everywhere in our daily life. If we don’t act, if we don’t put laws in place, there will be deaths.”

Earlier this year experts at the World Economic Forum in Davos said robots were being developed that could correct children’s homework, sort the laundry and help those needing care in the home.

But they also warned about the dangers of developing “killer robots”, meaning robotic weapons with artificial intelligence that could be used in warfare.

In 2015 around 1,000 scientists said in an open letter than the development of autonomous weapons – as opposed to drones controlled by humans – could be possible within years, and called for a ban on offensive weapons that are beyond meaningful human control.

For more news from Switzerland, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

The Local (news@thelocal.ch)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Villagers asked to help fund bridge renovations
The bridge links the two villages of Veltheim (pictured) and Holderbank. Photo: Lutz Fischer-Lamprecht

The crowdfunding campaign by the two communes is the first of its kind in Switzerland.

Police discover body buried in Orbe house
File photo: Bas Leenders

Police have opened an investigation after finding a body buried in a house in Orbe, in the canton of Vaud, on Saturday.

Valais shaken by 4.2 magnitude earthquake
The earthquake hit in the canton of Valais near Sierre. Photo: Alain Rouiller

It's the biggest earthquake to hit the country for two years.

Swiss Indoors kicks off without champ Federer
Federer celebrates with ball girls and boys after winning the event in 2015. Photo: Harold Cunningham/Pool/AFP

Stan Wawrinka is top seed as injured Federer sits it out.

IOC hires Russian doping whistleblower as consultant
IOC President Thomas Bach confirmed the news. File photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has hired Vitaly Stepanov as a consultant and is helping his runner wife Yuliya.

‘Scary clown’ craze hits streets of Zurich
Photo: Pedro Pardo/AFP

Police in Zurich have warned so-called ‘scary clowns’ that they could face charges, following a number of incidents in the city.

VIDEO: driver chases runaway car on Swiss motorway
Image: Neuchâtel police

Shocking footage shows the moment a man dodged lorries to chase after his runaway car on a Swiss motorway.

Saas-Fee crowdfunds low-cost season ski pass
Saas-Fee is hoping to attract 99,999 season pass holders. Photo: Denis Emery/Photo-genic.ch

Skiers could get their hands on a whole season pass for just 222 francs ($223) in the Swiss resort of Saas Fee this winter – if enough people want one.

Swiss billionaire fined for dodging import tax
Urs Schwarzenbach owns the luxury Dolder Grand hotel in Zurich. Photo: Wilhem Rosenkranz

Urs Schwarzenbach faces a $4 million fine for failing to properly declare some 200 artworks imported into Switzerland.

Muslim woman wins headscarf court battle
Photo: Jack Guez / AFP

A Swiss court has ruled against a company that fired a longtime employee after she began wearing the Muslim headscarf.

Photo: Richard Juilliard/AFP
Man makes Geneva airport bomb threat ‘for a joke’
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Photo: AFP
Solar Impulse team reveals plans for unmanned plane
File photo: Martin Abegglen
Swiss to vote on passport rules for 3rd gen foreigners
Photo: AFP
Swiss wingsuit hotspot Lauterbrunnen won’t impose ban
Photo: Swiss Tourism
Six reasons Switzerland isn’t as boring as you might think
Photo: Swiss Tourism
Report: Switzerland one of world’s best places for girls
Photo: The Local
Thief returns Swiss cow bells worth thousands
File photo: Wikimedia Commons
One in three rapists isn’t locked up: statistics
Photo: activistin.ch
Tampon-tax protest turns Zurich fountains red
Photo: AFP
Geneva police to lift ban on bearded officers
Photo: Marcel Gillieron/AFP
Suicide chef’s restaurant keeps Michelin stars
Photo: Lara de Salis
11 things the Swiss get tired of hearing abroad
Photo:  Ivo Scholz/Swiss-image.ch
Survey: expats in Switzerland have money but few friends
Photo: AFP
Swiss press criticize Bern’s 'capitulation' on immigration
Photo: Jura Trois Lacs tourism
German ex-policeman is Swiss city’s new hermit
Photo: Dmitry A. Mottl
Ticino votes to favour local workers over foreigners
Photo: file
Some deodorants could cause breast cancer: Swiss study
Photo: Royal Savoy
In pictures: Inside the latest Swiss luxury hotel
Photo: AFP
Geneva airport bomb hoaxer faces 90,000-franc bill
Photo: Schaffhausen police
Mother leaves toddler son alone in car to go clubbing
Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP
Swiss populist attacked by knife-wielding pensioner
jobs available