This Robot Intentionally Makes People Bleed

Posted: Jun 13 2016, 9:35am CDT | by , in News | Technology News


This Robot Intentionally Makes People Bleed
Credit: Alexander Reben

Alexander Reben, a roboticist and artist, has created a tabletop robot who has one purpose: hurt people.

Although robots have long been a part of our lives, we have long been hesitant to create a robot that is "dangerous" to humans because it goes against a "law" penned by science-fiction icon Isaac Asimov in his 1942 short story Runaround. He gave three easy to understand rules, the second of which states: "A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law."

Of course, accidents have happened in the past where people were injured after improperly using an industrial robot, but that isn't quite the same thing.

However, a Berkeley, California man wants to start a conversation with lawyers, philosophers, ethicists, and others involved in the technology field about where it is going and if it will be dangerous in the future.

Alexander Reben, a roboticist and artist, has created a tabletop robot who has one purpose: hurt people, according to the Fast Company.

Now, before you start to figure out where you can hide to get away from some robot army, the robot doesn't actually do that much damage. In fact, he does nothing more than a pinprick, though it is one that is extremely fast and has the maximum amount of pain it can possibly inflict.

Interestingly enough, the machine doesn't always do damage. Instead, it is inflicted randomly so that the person who is using it doesn't know whether or not they will be struck by the pin.

"No one’s actually made a robot that was built to intentionally hurt and injure someone," Reben claims. "I wanted to make a robot that does this that actually exists...That was important to, to take it out of the thought experiment realm into reality, because once something exists in the world, you have to confront it. It becomes more urgent. You can’t just pontificate about it."

When asked for her opinion on the experiment, another researcher said that it would be important but that she didn't want to be the one to use it.

Reben is quite famous in the robotics industry. He is probably best known as the creator of BlabDroid, a small robot that inspires people it meets to tell stories about their lives. He does this so that hopefully technology will be able to teach us about our humanity.

He knows that people are afraid of robots and the potential power that they bring.

Robots aren't going to take over, at least not anytime soon.

Reben does want to force people to confront the issue and understand that if there ever would be a threat, we'd need to know how to handle. Normally, this job might only be done in theory, but sometimes that isn't the best way to go.

He explains: "With increasingly autonomous technology, it might make more sense to view robots as analogous to animals, whose behavior we also can’t always anticipate."

It's likely that there won't be any outrage because this robot isn't going to cause severe harm.

Still, Reben hopes that this will start a conversation about robotics. "These cross-disciplinary people need to come together," Reben says, "to solve some of these problems that no one of them can wrap their heads around or solve completely."

He imagines the lawyers will be particularly interesting in the liability issues that surround the debate. Ethicists will wonder if it is even okay to do this.

Still, some claim that these laws were never going to work anyway.

"The point of the Three Laws was to fail in interesting ways; that's what made most of the stories involving them interesting," Ben Goertzel, AI theorist and chief scientist at financial prediction firm Aidyia Holdings, has said. "So the Three Laws were instructive in terms of teaching us how any attempt to legislate ethics in terms of specific rules is bound to fall apart and have various loopholes."

Others believe that this will just open up the floodgates.

"I want people to start confronting the physicality of it," Reben says. "It will raise a bit more awareness outside the philosophical realm."

"There’s always going to be situations where the unforeseen is going to happen, and how to deal with that is going to be an important thing to think about."

Check out the video of the robot below:

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The Author

<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/46" rel="author">Noel Diem</a>
Noel passion is to write about geek culture.




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