An anonymous reader writes "A law professor says the U.S. could fall behind in the robotics race if we don't change product liability law. A new op-ed over at Mashable expands upon this: Yet for all its momentum, robotics is at a crossroads. The industry faces a choice — one that you see again and again with transformative technologies. Will this technology essentially be closed, or will it be open? ... What does it mean for robotics to be closed? Resembling any contemporary appliance, they are designed to perform a set task. They run proprietary software and are no more amenable to casual tinkering than a dishwasher. Open robots are just the opposite. By definition, they invite contribution. It has no predetermined function, runs third-party or even open-source software, and can be physically altered and extended without compromising performance. Consumer robotics started off closed, which helps to explain why it has moved so slowly."