Robots, the Law, & You:
Robots Committing Crimes

Who is Responsible if a Robot Commits a Crime?

Pictured: Dancing robots programmed by Boston Dynamics

In late 2020, Robotics lab Boston Dynamics released a video that was both super adorable…and absolutely terrifying.  In the video robots, programmed to have artificial intelligence, are dancing.

These features seem fun, but let’s think-this-out for the future. These dancing robots with artificial intelligence are originally programmed to dance but they can learn other skills beyond what was originally taught to them. Some robots have been made to do more than walk and talk like drive cars and make their own decisions. They call this artificial intelligence. A robot is programmed with basic actions, thoughts, and knowledge, then, just like any human, can learn and develop thoughts on their own.

The tricky part with robots is knowing who is responsible when a crime is committed. If it does something wrong, even something minor, like walking across the street where there isn’t a crosswalk, who is responsible for its actions? Or if it decides to rob a bank?

Some say that the designer is responsible because they are responsible for the basic thought process of the robot, based on how the designer thinks. Others think the robot is solely responsible because they are designed to think on their own and build knowledge off of experiences.

Robots have come a long way from being walking toys. It can be difficult to know how to treat a robot in a criminal case if it has never happened before. The more advanced the technology gets the more difficult it is to know who is responsible for the robots actions.



1. Who should be held accountable for a robot’s actions, the robot or the designer? Why?

2. If a driverless Tesla causes a car crash who is responsible? The designer of the driverless technology or the robot driving the car? 

3. Do you think a computer programmed robot has the ability to become as fully functioning as humans? Why or why not?

4. If a crime is caused by an artificial intelligent robot in Nevada what might be the consequences? Does the severity of the crime matter?

Be sure to provide full explanations for your answers.  For more details, you can read the article this piece was sourced from here:

To see the video….


And to see the article that inspire….


Contributed by Saralynn Lindsay

Artificial intelligence, Project REAL, Robot Committing Crimes, robots, Robots Dancing, Robots Driving Cars, Teaching the Law, Who Is Responsible,

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