In the 21st Century humanity will coexist with the first alien intelligence we have ever come into contact with - robots, an event rich in ethical, social and economic problems, suggests the European Robotics Research Network.
The BBC reported yesterday that The Robot Ethics Charter will cover standards for users and manufacturers and will be released later in 2007. It is being put together by a five member team of experts that includes futurists and a science fiction writer.
People may get addicted to interacting with them just as many internet users get hooked to the cyberworld, with profound social implications.
New guidelines could reflect the three laws of robotics put forward by author Isaac Asimov in his short story Runaround in 1942: "A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm. A robot must obey orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law." Posted by Casey Kazan.
Other bodies are also thinking about the robotic future. Last year a United Kingdom government study predicted that in the next 50 years robots could demand the same rights as human beings.