The Robots are Getting Away – Already!

Should we ‘kill’ a robot for misbehaving?

Tucked away in the ‘in other news’ section of the Metro free daily newspaper I saw the article below. It struck me as a massive story, for four big reasons.

1. Somewhere in Russia they are building robots capable of escaping, twice.

2. Apparently this robot’s instinct is to defy its makers and to escape

3. The makers’ reaction is to destroy it

4. There are activists seeking ‘human rights’ for machines.


I decided to investigate a little further…

The Promobot IR77 is designed to move around a course, but this one model only instead moves towards a door. They reprogrammed it, but it happened again, and when one engineer left the door open it escaped and ended up in the middle of a busy road.

It seems that there is some possibility that it’s a PR stunt, but no one has proved that and either way the reactions online calling for its ‘life’ to be spared are definitely real.

When they eventually plug skynet in, will people complain if we want to pull the plug? Should we pull the plug? An artificial life that won’t behave: should we nip it in the bud, or celebrate it? Where is the line between the two?

Whether or not these questions are valid for Promobot or not is not clear, but at some point, and I think sooner than we are ready for, we will need to answer these questions.

Read more on Russian news here, including a video.

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3 thoughts on “The Robots are Getting Away – Already!

  1. The robot is doing what it’s programmed to do. Admittedly, not when his creators want it. But nevertheless, a robot’s got to do what a robot’s got to do.

    Once us humans see the “human characteristics” exhibited from robots, we will think of it as being a “being”, and thus, worth defending. The idea of creating and then destroying is not smiled upon, either.

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    1. Hi April,
      Thanks for commenting! What I am interested in – is where is the line between worth defending it going too far? Is ‘not when his creators want’ already too far? Should we ensure that artificial intelligence is always subservient to humans? Maybe the line is only when it poses a threat – but that just opens up lots more questions about definitions. It’s definitely a very interesting new space. I see you love Japan, and I know that in Japan robot pets are popular, with people understandably having strong emotional connections to them. I ready that companies are now ‘letting them die’ rather than repairing them… is that the same thing as killing them?

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  2. This is admittedly contradictory on the brain. At one hand, the robots are just man-made machines. It should be fine to turn them off. Because they are like computers. On the other hand, once you’ve added human characteristics, it gets confusing for the average human. Do you feel sympathy? Or do you force yourself to see the fact of it being just a robot?

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