Politicians in Europe are warning that EU-wide rules on robots and artificial intelligence need to be introduced. MEPs have been discussing if to give robots legal status as "electronic persons", and they're also considering if they should be fitted with a kill switch in case humans need to take back control.
A report being debated in Brussels suggests that robots, bots, androids and other types of artificial intelligence will "unleash a new industrial revolution, which is likely to leave no stratum of society untouched".
There is some concern about the physical safety of humans if robotic systems fail or are hacked, or robots become too clever. The report suggests that machines with artificial intelligence could surpass human intellectual capacity in a matter of years.
MEPs have also been discussing the future of jobs, and the amount of money humans may lose out on because of robots. The World Economic Forum expects robots will replace over five million jobs in the next three years, which has prompted a call for EU countries to consider introducing a universal basic income for citizens.
Because robots "pose a challenge to humanity's capacity... and the survival of the species", there is a call for a European agency for robotics and artificial intelligence to be set up. It would be run by a group of experts, who could provide technical, ethical and regulatory guidance.
It may sound like something out of a movie, but if robots gain self-awareness, it's currently thought that those in charge will look to a set of rules dreamed up by writer Isaac Asimov. They state, among other things, that "a robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm".
The American author and professor of biochemistry was known for his works of science fiction, and his non-fiction work entitled Three Laws of Robotics.