Documenting the Coming Singularity

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

The 3 Laws Won't Cut it - Living Safely with Robots, Beyond Asimov's Laws

Editor's note: The law is always playing catchup when it comes to advances in technology, but these guys are making some great suggestions in advance of the robot ubiquity future. Many experts put that future within the next 20 - 30 years, and when you couple robotics with artificial general intelligence, thinking through the legal implications is very wise. - June 22, 2009, by Lisa Zyga

TOPIO 2.0 - TOSY Ping Pong Playing Robot version 2 at Nuremberg International Toy Fair 2009. Image: Wikimedia Commons

"In 1981, a 37-year-old factory worker named Kenji Urada entered a restricted safety zone at a Kawasaki manufacturing plant to perform some maintenance on a robot. In his haste, he failed to completely turn it off. The robot’s powerful hydraulic arm pushed the engineer into some adjacent machinery, thus making Urada the first recorded victim to die at the hands of a robot."

In situations like this one, as described in a recent study published in the International Journal of Social Robotics, most people would not consider the accident to be the fault of the robot. But as robots are beginning to spread from industrial environments to the real world, human safety in the presence of robots has become an important social and technological issue. Currently, countries like Japan and South Korea are preparing for the “human-robot coexistence society,” which is predicted to emerge before 2030; South Korea predicts that every home in its country will include a robot by 2020. Unlike industrial robots that toil in structured settings performing repetitive tasks, these “Next Generation Robots” will have relative autonomy, working in ambiguous human-centered environments, such as nursing homes and offices. Before hordes of these robots hit the ground running, regulators are trying to figure out how to address the safety and legal issues that are expected to occur when an entity that is definitely not human but more than machine begins to infiltrate our everyday lives.

As Chen added, Asimov’s Three Laws were originally made for literary purposes, but the ambiguity in the laws makes the responsibilities of robots’ developers, robots’ owners, and governments unclear.

In their study, authors Yueh-Hsuan Weng, a former staff of Taiwan’s Conscription Agency, Ministry of the Interior, and currently visiting at Yoshida, Kyoto, Japan, along with Chien-Hsun Chen and Chuen-Tsai Sun, both of the National Chiao Tung University in Hsinchu, Taiwan, have proposed a framework for a legal system focused on Next Generation Robot safety issues. Their goal is to help ensure safer robot design through “safety intelligence” and provide a method for dealing with accidents when they do inevitably occur. The authors have also analyzed Isaac Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics, but (like most robotics specialists today) they doubt that the laws could provide an adequate foundation for ensuring that robots perform their work safely.

Read entire story>>

Follow me on Twitter. Technological Singularity and Futurism is updated often; the easiest way to get your regular dose is by subscribing to our news feed. Stay on top of all our updates by subscribing now via RSS or Email.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]