More concern over the cultural implications of autonomous robots in the
news today. The BBC
a public debate held at the London Science Museum. From the aritcle:
"Autonomous robots are able to make decisions without human
intervention. At a simple level, these can include robot vacuum cleaners
that decide for themselves when to move from room to room".
Winfield suggests the the worries come when you give
autonomous robots guns: "If an autonomous robot kills someone, whose
fault is it? Right now, that's not an issue because the responsibility
lies with the designer or operators of that robot; but as robots become
more autonomous that line [of] responsibility becomes blurred." The
debate also covered subjects such as the UK robot rights study that
predicted housing and healthcare rights for sentient robots. The study
was "poorly informed, poorly supported by science and it is
sensationalist" according to Professor Owen
Holland. He does acknowledge
a need for informed debate about the rights issue, however.
A company produces a landmine. I set the landmine up on my neighbour's front porch where it autonomously awaits its victim. Not autonomous enough? I purchase a "smartmine" where I can train it to interpret cues about whether it is my neighbour or just a visitor walking out his front door.
Is there ANY question who is at fault here?
You might think that the issue isn't when it *works* but when it *doesn't work*. I program it to take out a troublesome pigeon and it misunderstands and blows up a family of four walking by. I still wonder how it isn't my responsibility for knowing what I was buying and how I'm using it.
If I speak with the company and they warrant in a signed document that it will only, under any circumstances, take out pigeons THEN I can point the finger when pieces of the Johnsons end up on my roof. I have effectively asked the company to take the risk, likely for a price, and they have accepted. Or I have taken out insurance (by the way, SEVERELY risking my reputation as an effective pigeon management company).
I'm baffled at how people are trying so desperately to make an issue of this. This age of avoiding personal responsibility really has to stop.
And rights issue? Maybe I should stop now...