Scientists and lawyers with Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence have been meeting to discuss the legal and ethical implications of the use and liabilities posed by robots. They have rapidly become part of our lives everywhere from the home, our children, hospitals, police departments and battlefields with our troops.
Robots are made with specific purposes in mind, but some are programmed to learn based on experiences, commands and introduced software. Who bears the liability if a robot injures a human being? What if the injury isn’t an accident? Science fiction rules aside, there currently no laws in the U.S. that deal with robots causing injury to humans. At least, not specifically.
Not only legal liability is being pondered. The attachment formed by some people to their robotic pets or devices, like decorating and naming a Roomba vacuum cleaner is also a delicate topic.
Under consideration for the future along with liability and human emotions is the proposal to develop robots that can explain their actions and decisions to humans. It was agreed that more study is needed in the area of robots and human attachments.
I had a robot dog when they first came out. No hair, no fur. It sat, spoke and walked on command. It was truly amusing and cute at first, but with toys also comes boredom. Eventually I gave it away. For me, the real thing has no substitute.
I interact with children who have robotic pets, and can see the appeal for both them and their parents. A pet is expensive. Food, vet bills, legal liabilities if the pet bites or gets loose and attacks another pet, etc. The robot pet is accepted in apartments and houses for rent while a live pet may not be. And the pets aren’t just dog and cat robots. Leopards, lion cubs, pandas, penguins and more are available. They entertain, amuse and fill the “I want a pet” void.
I do love watching my cats chase and follow the Roomba vacuum cleaner. Too bad its dust box is so small.
There are times I wonder just what kind of robot I would love to have. How about a weeding robot for my garden? One to chase out the squirrels? Get the mail or take out the trash so I’m not “doing the trash dash” in the cold or rain? One to scoop up the poo from the yard for dog owners? Now that would be a handy gift to give.
Source: Eric Horvitz, Oy! Robot! Scientists, lawyers consider the implications of intelligent machines in the home EarthLink – Technology News Associated Press