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.