The Three Laws are:

  1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
  2. A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
  3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws.

I know the risk to human beings posed by artificial intelligences is a topic of serious study, of regulations imposed by some funding bodies, and of calls for legislation, but I do not know whether any such legislation has been adopted by a state or group of states.

  • 2
    You should know that the Three Laws of Robotics are not at all a guarantee of safety. They were a narrative device for Asimov's writing, and Asimov himself showed some of their problems in his stories. He never seriously proposed that our robots just need to adopt the three laws to be safe. Nov 17, 2015 at 0:18
  • @PetrHudeček, no law that I'm aware of is a guarantee of safety. However, unless I'm mistaken: compared to an absence of laws, the Three Laws substantially increase the probability of human safety in a world that contains robots capable of overpowering humans. That is meaningful and worthwhile.
    – user543
    Nov 17, 2015 at 16:59
  • Unfortunately, no. For example, humans are being harmed every second so robots would never be able to apply laws 2 and 3, and so would be utterly outside human control, which does increase safety. I think comments on Law.SE are not a good place to discuss that, though :). But I don't think there's any regulation on AI yet anywhere in the world. Nov 17, 2015 at 17:58
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    @PetrHudeček, I understand and appreciate your reasoning, but it contains some hidden assumptions that are not necessarily true, or whose truth value might change over time. E.g. if enough robots knew enough about the world and had enough ability, then over time their actions would make it no longer true that "humans are being harmed every second". That would then free the robots to follow laws 2 and 3. Anyhow, I agree that that is somewhat off-topic, and that this is not the place for an extended discussion, so I propose to say no more about that here.
    – user543
    Nov 17, 2015 at 23:11
  • Potentially relevant: theguardian.com/technology/2017/oct/04/…
    – user543
    Oct 6, 2017 at 14:42

1 Answer 1


Interestingly enough, this has been planned - but not completed.

South Korea: Robot Ethics Charter

In 2007, South Korea worked towards establishing the Robot Ethics Charter, a guide for manufacturers a designers of robots. South Korea is a strong robotics and electronics manufacturer, and wants to expand robotics to help the economy.

There were several news articles in 2007 about work on the Charter, but I have yet to find anything else significant about it. Further reading indicates that the plan most likely fell through.

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    Thanks. I saw those articles too, but unless I'm mistaken, that initiative ended up being legal vaporware. I would like to know whether any real laws exist addressing the issue.
    – user543
    Nov 14, 2015 at 16:22

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