In today’s modern age robots are key players in both our professional and daily lives. We witness robots repairing oil pipes deep in the ocean, performing surgical procedures in hospitals, and undertaking household tasks such as vacuuming. Some cities have even restructured their public transportation and implemented driverless subway systems, while cars perform autonomous functions such as intelligent parking assistance.
To qualify as a robot, a device requires a level of artificial intelligence (AI) and some degree of autonomy from the owner or operator. AI refers to the reproduction of human cognitive functions—reasoning, problem solving, recognition, etc.—through artificial means. Robotics is the combination of information, input, and physical action. The inputted information is often in the form of AI and therefore, there is a frequent overlap with robotics.
Modern technologies are now being designed with increased autonomous features to assist in human tasks. Surgeons, for example, currently use robotic systems such as DaVinci to precisely operate and to execute minor incisions so that the patient experiences less bleeding, quicker healing, and a reduced risk of infections. Although the convenience of robots is an exciting advancement from a technological viewpoint, it raises questions about whether our existing frameworks are adequate to manage further robotic development. Moreover, our future’s inevitable dependence on robots has fueled controversial debates regarding ethical concerns and legal regulation.
With the global demand for robotics growing, Canada is yet to develop a specific robotic/AI regulatory regime. Ontario alone houses more than 350 automation and robotic related companies that possess technologies with enormous potential. The void of a legal framework critically undermines the trust in the technology and results in a hesitation to integrate the advancements into society. Additionally, the regulatory absence discourages businesses from using innovative technologies that could potentially increase efficiency and cost savings.