While experts from several fields
around the world attempt to work through the ever-growing list of problems to create
more obedient robots, others caution that it could be a double-edged sword.
While it may lead to machines that are safer and ultimately better it may also
introduce an avalanche of problems regarding the rights of the intelligences
that we have created.
The notion that human/robot
relations might prove tricky far from a new one. In 1947, legendary science
fiction writer Isaac Asimov introduced his Three Laws of Robotics in the short
story collection I, Robot, which were designed to be a basic set of
laws that all robots must follow to ensure the safety of humans. 1) A robot
cannot harm human beings, 2) A robot must obey orders given to it unless it
conflicts with the first law, and 3) A robot must protect its own existence
unless in conflicts with either of the first two laws. Asimov’s robots adhere
strictly to the laws and yet, limited by their rigid robot brains, become trapped
in unresolvable moral dilemmas. In one story, a robot lies to a woman and falsely
tells her that a certain man loves her who doesn’t, because the truth might hurt
her feelings, which the robot interprets as a violation of the first law. To not
break her heart, the robot breaks her trust, traumatizing her and ultimately
violating the first law anyway. The conundrum ultimately drives the
robot insane. Although fictional literature, Asimov’s Laws have remained a
central and basic point entry point for serious discussions about the nature of
morality in robots and acting as a reminder that even clear, well defined rules
may fail when interpreted by individual robots on a case to case basis.
Accelerating advances in new AI technology
have recently spurred an increased interest to the question of how newly intelligent
robots might navigate our world. With a future of highly intelligent AI
seemingly close at hand, robot morality has emerged as a growing field of discussion,
attracting scholars from ethics, philosophy, human rights, law, psychology, and
theology. There have also been several public concerns as many noteworthy minds
in the scientific and robotics communities have cautioned that the uprise of machines
could well mean the end of the world.