Is it too soon to create a federal robotics commission? Maybe not.
Calo’s commission would not be a pre-emptive, regulatory one. Rather, it would act in an advisory capacity, writing reports and serving as a resource for states with questions on, for example, how to regulate driverless cars. (There is already reason to believe that they will, in the not too distant future, need someone to whom to turn: As Calo notes in the paper’s introduction, the Department of Transportation has already had to turn to NASA to deal with a case of inexplicably accelerating Toyotas.)
But the case for a commission isn’t only in what could happen were we to create one—it’s also what will happen if we fail to do so. Calo worries that, without such a commission, and without thinking about robotics consistently and centrally, “People will strike the wrong balance between innovation and safety,” meaning that we won’t allow robotic advancements to be made out of fear. Alternatively, we might allow them to happen, but they’ll come with missteps, poorly thought-out rules, and lack of regulations.