Attack of the Sexbots
Sensation mongering quote from the Sunday Times:
“People are going to be having sex with robots within five years,”
That's not all, it seems.
THE race is on to keep humans one step ahead of robots: an international team of scientists and academics is to publish a “code of ethics” for machines as they become more and more sophisticated.
Although the nightmare vision of a Terminator world controlled by machines may seem fanciful, scientists believe the boundaries for human-robot interaction must be set now — before super-intelligent robots develop beyond our control.
“There are two levels of priority,” said Gianmarco Verruggio, a roboticist at the Institute of Intelligent Systems for Automation in Genoa, northern Italy, and chief architect of the guide, to be published next month. “We have to manage the ethics of the scientists making the robots and the artificial ethics inside the robots.”
Verruggio and his colleagues have identified key areas that include: ensuring human control of robots; preventing illegal use; protecting data acquired by robots; and establishing clear identification and traceability of the machines.
“Scientists must start analysing these kinds of questions and seeing if laws or regulations are needed to protect the citizen,” said Verruggio. “Robots will develop strong intelligence, and in some ways it will be better than human intelligence.
“But it will be alien intelligence; I would prefer to give priority to humans.”
The analysis culminated at a meeting recently held in Genoa by the European Robotics Research Network (Euron) that examined the problems likely to arise as robots become smarter, faster, stronger and ubiquitous.
“Security, safety and sex are the big concerns,” said Henrik Christensen, a member of the Euron ethics group. How far should robots be allowed to influence people’s lives? How can accidents be avoided? Can deliberate harm be prevented? And what happens if robots turn out to be sexy? “The question is what authority are we going to delegate to these machines?” said Professor Ronald Arkin, a roboticist at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta. “Are we, for example, going to give robots the ability to execute lethal force, or any force, like crowd control?” The forthcoming code is a sign of reality finally catching up with science fiction. Ethical problems involving machines were predicted in the 1950s by the science fiction writer Isaac Asimov whose book I, Robot was recently turned into a Hollywood film. The Terminator and Robocop series of films also portrayed mechanical law enforcers running amok.
Present robots perform more mundane tasks: the most common consumer robots in Britain include self-guided vacuum cleaners such as the Scooba, lawnmowers such as the Robomow and children’s toys such as Robosapien.
But far more sophisticated machines are being developed. The National Health Service has used a robot called da Vinci to perform surgery at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust in London. In Japan, human-like robots such as Honda’s Asimo and Sony’s Qrio can walk on two legs. More advanced versions are expected to be undertaking everyday domestic tasks and helping to care for the elderly in as little as 20 years.
Guess what. If robots get smarter than us (and they will, unless we stop building them), they will make the rules, not us.