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ethical robots

September 17, 2014

New Scientist: “ Ethical trap: robot paralysed by choice of who to save” by Aviva Rutkin, (found also in io9: “Cool Experiment Puts Asimov’s First Law Of Robotics To The Test” by George Dvorsky) about research by roboticist Alan Winfield of Bristol Robotics Laboratory:

Winfield describes his robot as an “ethical zombie” that has no choice but to behave as it does. Though it may save others according to a programmed code of conduct, it doesn’t understand the reasoning behind its actions. Winfield admits he once thought it was not possible for a robot to make ethical choices for itself. Today, he says, “my answer is: I have no idea”.

ethical robot zombie
zombie alan winfield bristol

Are we all a sort of ethical robots, and how can we avoid the zombie indecision trap so as to make the best decisions? Is it cruel to ask a robot to chose between saving only one of two others? Did that ethical robot sign a consent agreement before this research?

And trending on Imgur today:
robot workers human

The top comment is from mmsword:

Minimum wage is just a way of telling someone that if robots were cheaper, they’d be replaced with one.

Robots present an issue of worker rights but also implications for so many other issues as we also change our understanding of what it means to be human.

Consider this idea from Brookings (found via link from Ars Technica): “The Case for a Federal Robotics Commission” by Ryan Calo. Because we need more government regulation of the machine world!

But more importantly, we need our Congress to stop being so indecisive and start saving the planet. Indecision is going to kill us all. We need action on climate change and immigration and quite a few other issues. Instead Congresses prefer inaction and limited actions designed to failed. Recall “New York State Legislature avoiding controversies“. No use beating up on Albany when they aren’t even working today, there is plenty of indecision in Washington today with both chambers in session today. Launch the drones at ISIL? Happy Constitution Day.


From → Academics, computers, war

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