Tuesday, 28 February 2017

The scientist and science fiction writer Isaac Asimov as stated in his 1942 short story Runaround

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 orders given 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.

Asimov later added a fourth law.

0. A robot may not harm humanity, or, by inaction allow humanity to come to harm.

Should this be how robots should be programmed?

The Rise of the New Robota

Robots and automation are a long way from where they started.  They had a pretty magnificant start with Chinese Inventor's Su Song's drum machine which made different drum beats, Leonardo Da Vinci's humanoid automata which were detailed drawings of a robot, to the Japanese Butai karakuri which reenacted Japanese theatrics.  These inventions allowed precision and in some case automation but likely robots at that time were a fanciful plaything for the engineers that developed them.  Thus they were not present for making people vasts amounts of money.  After the industrial revolution automation and robotics started playing more into society when car companies started using them in the 1960's.  Today with new computing robots, automation and machine learning robots have paved a new way for them to take over jobs that gave added precision and automation from people.  Of course, one of the missions of today's robots are intended to be used to make the owners vast amounts of money.  

This blog asks the question, 'Does a robot have a right in this society? Has economics pushed us to create a new type of worker?  And if so does it have the right to take over someone's job for purely financial gain?  How should robots be treated?  Can they be treated as people?  Should robots pay taxes?  How many hours should a robot work?  Is there a level of intelligence that a robot has to achieve before it might achieve some rights?

The Czech writer Karel Capek coined the term robot. It came from the Slavic word robota which means forced laborer to describe the peasants who would do labor under the feudal system in Europe at the time.  This is where you were basically tied to your land to work long hours with little or no pay.  A rich land owner reaped the benefits of the 'robota's' work.  Their was no middle class but an oligarchy.  Much of this disappeared in Europe by 1500 because the nobility lost power.  Remnants remained until as late as 1860.  Largely, the rise of a middle class and the dissapearance of 'lords' after the French Revolution completely obliterated any feudalism.  The feudal system at the time can be paralleled to the American economy now where a rich business owner pays their employees very little and there is an erosion of a middle class which are replaced by a new kind of automated, steel, computer driven robota.