By: Khadijah Peek
â€œHuman beings have dreams. Even dogs have dreams, but not you, you are just a machine. An imitation of life. Can a robot write a symphony? Can a robot turn aâ€¦ canvas into a beautiful masterpiece?â€Â Movies like Surrogates and I Robot have depicted realities where robots mimic everything that makes us human. One issue that arose in I Robot, was how to deal with a robot who committed a criminal violation. Japanese Robotics expert Hiroshi Ishiguro has made the plot in I Robot almost a real possibility with his creation of human-like android robots.
At an exhibition in Tokyo, Ishiguroâ€™s presentation â€œfeature[d] life-like robots that have the potential to replace receptionists, newscasts and possibly even sex partners.â€ The three types of robots that were on display at the exhibit were the Kodomoroid, Otonaroid, and Telenoid. The first robot is able to perform news reports from around the world in various voices. The second robot is an adult woman that can talk, act, blink, and breathe. She is meant to be a robot science communicator. The third robot is supposed to display certain physical features that allow people to feel like they are with whomever they please.
Ishiguro stated that â€œthese robots are meant to help humanity understand what it really means to be human.â€ In making the life-like features of the androids, plaster molds are taken of real human teeth to replicate the exact dimensions. Then, a special silicone that resembles human skin is molded for many hours to make the android replica as close to human as possible. Simultaneously, the androids are programmed to mimic â€œrealistic human gestures and facial inflections, so that the robot is able to move and interact in as realistic a way as possible.â€
These life-like androids will soon be used as actresses, clones of the deceased, and possibly in the sex industry. As the research and interactions between humans and robots increases, many legal issues present themselves. However, physical safety of humans is the only legal concern that has arisen in Japan when it comes to these human-like robots. Currently, technology and legal science imply that it would be pointless to argue that robots should be found guilty in a court of law. The legal system requires psychological components, such as consciousness, to attribute liability to people for criminal law violations. The level of autonomy needed to hold someone criminally liable is deficient in robots.
However, there is a theory that the traditional legal view would not be altered because the user of the robotâ€”and not actually the robotâ€”would be held liable for the actions of their robot. The robots created by Ishiguro were operated by a human and were said to take on the personality of the owner. Therefore, if a robot commits a criminal violation on the ownerâ€™s behalf, liability would fall on the human who owns the robot. But, if the robot acted of its own accord, then liability of the owner is dependent on what should have been reasonably foreseeable.
However, the real question that has yet to be answered is what happens if these human-like robots become smarter than we imagined? Do we still treat them as if they are attached to their owners, or as separate individuals? Since technology is not that advanced, these questions go unanswered. Although parts of the I Robot movie have come to fruition, othersâ€”thankfullyâ€”have yet to unfold.
 I Robot (Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation 2004).
 Alejandro Alba, Japanese Professor Creates Uncanny Human-like Android Robots, New York Daily News (Nov. 20, 2014, 4:12 PM), http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/professor-creates-uncanny-human-like-android-robots-article-1.2018067.
 Alba, supra note 2.
 Mary-Ann Russon, Human or Machine? Life-Like Android Robots from Japan Show Glimpses of the Future, International Business Times (Jun. 24, 2014, 01:59 PM), http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/human-machine-life-like-android-robots-japan-show-glimpses-future-1453992.
 Maria Khan, Japan: Humans Might Soon be Taking Life-Like Androids as Partners in Marriage, International Business Times (Nov. 20, 2014, 9:42 PM), http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/japan-humans-might-soon-be-taking-life-like-androids-partners-marriage-1475838.
 Christine M. Grant & Melissa Ince, Robots, the Human Brain, and the Law,Â 4 No. 3 ABA SciTech Law. 12 (2007).
 Ugo Pagallo, Chapter 3 What Robots Want: Autonomous Machines, Codes and New FrontiersÂ of Legal Responsibility, 25 IUS Gentium 47 (2013).
 Khan, supra note 12.
 Pagallo, supra note 15.