Sunday, July 3, 2011

We Don't Have the Three Laws Yet?

This Slate article makes the good point that it's all very well to fret about killer robots in the sense of machines that turn on humanity and intentionally try to kill us all, but we should actually be paying attention to killer robots in the sense of machines that malfunction and accidentally kill some of us.

We should be concerned about robot safety the way we're concerned about automobile safety or lawn mower safety or toaster oven safety. Because machines are complicated and sometimes things can go wrong, and we need to think about that and how best to guard against harmful consequences.

During our session on robotics at Librarian Science Camp, the presenters mentioned this topic. I remember there was talk of how one potentially dangerous robot in the lab just won't activate if a person is too close. In this approach, safety isn't a matter of just relying on people to take proper precautions around the robot, because the precaution is built into the machine itself.

So, yeah, keep thinking about this issue, roboticists. We're all counting on you to keep robots from accidentally killing us, before they decide to do it on purpose.


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