Sunday, May 1, 2011

The Three Laws of Killer Robotics

KILLER ROBOTS – where would we be without them? Honestly, they enrich our lives in so many ways, yet I sometimes think we forget they even exist.
Exist?’ I hear you cry. ‘Killer robots don’t exist. They’re just in SF books and movies’. Well, I beg to differ. The US, in particular, is leading the way in developing robots that kill. There’s the airborne drone bomber, the robotically enhanced “Super Soldier”, and worse are planned, including a killing machine that roams the battlefield, consuming biological matter to fuel itself. Now, that idea has got real teeth when it comes to terror.
Given that we are already headed down the path of developing machines that kill people, I thought it might be prudent to take a look at how some SF writers and movie-makers have envisioned killer robots in the future. It should be taken as a given that a killer robot has been developed with the express purpose of ignoring the first two of Isaac Asimov’s three laws of robotics. Those being:
  1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
  2. A robot must obey any orders given to it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
  3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.
With this in mind, I instead propose the following, which constitutes a more likely set of base-level parameters for the kind of robots were are actually planning to build:
  1.  A killer robot may stun, maim or slaughter any human being it perceives to be a threat to either its fellow man, or itself. Such are deemed the enemy.
  2. A killer robot must obey any orders given to it by its fellow man, and ignore orders given by those who would be its enemy.
  3. A killer robot must protect its own existence at all costs, even where such protection conflicts with the First or Second Law, because killer robots are so much rarer than mere humans.
There, now we have a more realistic set of guidelines, I can spend the next month exploring how some others have interpreted the role of robots in our future…

No comments: