Skip to Main Content
As robots become more common across society, there is a pressing need to deal with questions of moral responsibility and legal liability in accidents involving semi-autonomous and autonomous machines. Previous attempts to address these questions have assumed machines with either minimal autonomy or full intelligence, and thus have not adequately considered the current and likely future state of the art in robotics and artificial intelligence. In this paper, we offer general principles to make sense of the foregoing issues, and propose a framework for addressing questions of responsibility and liability in human-robot interaction. This approach is based on the premise that robots can be analogized to animals for the purpose of assigning responsibility and liability when robots are involved in accidents. We provide justification for this approach, consider its implications, and discuss several of its advantages in analyzing human-robot interactions.