21 San Diego L. Rev. 1045 (1983-1984)
Laying Down the Law to Robots

handle is hein.journals/sanlr21 and id is 1051 raw text is: Laying Down The Law To Robots

MICHAEL GEMIGNANI*
This article discusses the nature of law and the challenges to
the law posed by the rapidly developing field of computer technol-
ogy. If the law is to retain vitality as the framework within which
society operates, it must respond to technological forces which
threaten the law with obsolescence. The Article focuses on robots
as symbols of machines performing functions usually reserved to
human beings. Several specific legal areas in which the use of
computers raises novel, and as yet unanswered, legal and ethical
issues are surveyed, including criminal procedure, copyright of
computer-generated works, and liability for computer-produced
catastrophes.
The Random House Dictionary defines a robot as a machine that
resembles a human and does mechanical, routine tasks on com-
mand.1 It is questionable how far into the future this definition will
be acceptable; moreover, man must consider the legal and ethical
implications of the technological developments that will render the
definition unacceptable. Robots, like the computers that often serve
as their brains, are with us to stay. However, as with computers,
the use of robots raises questions that must be addressed in order to
retain control over the framework of society.
If a robot is a machine that resembles a human, then the closer
the resemblance, the more uncomfortable man may feel. Man will
begin to question what it means to be a machine or to be human.
Moreover, the more closely the robot resembles a human or its ac-
tions parallel those of humans, the less likely it is that its actions will
be merely mechanical, routine tasks, or that such tasks will be
* Dean, College of Sciences and Humanities and Professor of Telecommunications,
Ball State University, Muncie, Indiana; B.A., 1962, University of Rochester; Ph.D.,
1965, University of Notre Dame; J.D., 1980, Indiana University.
1. THE RANDOM HOUSE DICTIONARY 777 (1978).
September-October 1984 Vol. 21 No. 5

1045

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