If an autonomous machine kills someone, who is responsible?
The Royal Academy of Engineering has published a report exploring the social, legal and ethical implications of ceding control to autonomous systems.
The supercomputer Hal in Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey embodies our worst fears about autonomous machines. Photograph: RGA
Within a decade, we could be routinely interacting with machines that are truly autonomous – systems that can adapt, learn from their experience and make decisions for themselves. Free from fatigue and emotion, they would perform better than humans in tasks that are dull, dangerous or stressful.
Already, the systems we rely on in our daily lives are being given the capacity to operate autonomously. On the London Underground, Victoria line trains drive themselves between stations, with the human "driver" responsible only for spotting obstacles and closing the doors. Trains on the Copenhagen Metro run without any driver at all. While our cars can't yet drive themselves, more and more functions are being given over to the vehicle, from anti-lock brakes to cruise control. Automatic lighting and temperature control are commonplace in homes and offices.
The areas of human existence in which fully autonomous machines might be useful – and the potential benefits – are almost limitless. Within a decade, robotic surgeons may be able to perform operations much more reliably than any human. Smart homes could keep an eye on elderly people and allow them to be more independent. Self-driving cars could reduce congestion, improve fuel efficiency and minimise the number of road accidents.
But automation can create hazards as well as removing them. How reliable does a robot have to be before we trust it to do a human's job? What happens when something goes wrong? Can a machine be held responsible for its actions?
"It's a very difficult area for the law because the idea that a machine might be responsible for something is not an easy concept at all," says Chris Elliott, a systems engineer, barrister and visiting professor at Imperial College London.
"If you take an autonomous system and one day it does something wrong and it kills somebody, who is responsible? Is it the guy who designed it? What's actually out in the field isn't what he designed because it has learned throughout its life. Is it the person who trained it?
"If we can't resolve all these things about who's responsible, who's charged if there's an accident and also who should have stopped it, we deny ourselves the benefit of using this stuff."
Aside from the legal implications, there are questions that arise from our personal reactions to these technologies. Would you want to live in a home that monitored your movements and called for help if you didn't take your medicine? If your loved one died on the operating table, would you feel differently if the surgeon was a robot?
In order to help society prepare for their arrival, the Royal Academy of Engineering has published a report on the social, legal and ethical issues surrounding autonomous systems. Elliott, one of the report's contributors, believes that engaging with the public early on is critical to manage people's expectations and ensure that an appropriate regulatory framework is in place.
"Part of my concern is that when we start seeing these things emerging, we're going to suddenly find that the people who could bring benefits to us won't because they're scared of the legal uncertainty," he said. "So one of the things we're trying to promote is a debate about the rights and wrongs – the ethics – and that should inform the law afterwards."
Article from: Guardian.co.uk
Red Ice Creations - Robots, Cyborgs & A.I.
Michael Tsarion - The Post Human World
Kevin Warwick - Artificial Intelligence & The Rise of the Machines in 2020 (Subscription)
Michael Tsarion - New Technology: Possibility or Danger? (Subscription)
Jim Elvidge - The Singularity, Nanobot's & Reality Simulation (Subscription)
Robot prostitutes tipped to tempt future tourists
Robots Trained To Fire On People
Rescue robot can pull victims into its body (Video)
Upcoming Military Robot Could Feed on Dead Bodies
A robot displaying human emotion has been unveiled
Japan Unveils Mind Control Robot (Video)
Gallery: Domestic robots with a taste for flesh
Pentagon exploring robot killers that can fire on their own
Pentagon hires British scientist to help build robot soldiers that 'won't commit war crimes'
Pentagon Wants Packs Of Robots To Detect “Non-cooperative Humans”
Latest News from our Front Page
CDC official called Obama 'Marxist,' 'amateur' over border surge...
Following the influx of illegal immigrant minors from Central America, an official at the federal agency charged with protecting public health describes Barack Obama as "the worst pres we have ever had," an â€œamateur" and "Marxist," according to internal emails obtained by Judicial Watch.
JW got the records as part of an investigation into the Center for Disease Controlâ€™s (CDC) activation ...
Obama Administration Likely to Block New Redskins Stadium
The Obama administration will likely block Washington, D.C., authorities from building a new stadium for the NFLâ€™s Washington Redskins because of objections to the teamâ€™s name.
The National Park Service (NPS) owns the land under the 54-year-old Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium, a venue two miles east of the Capitol that hosted the Redskins from 1961 to 1996. Some city leaders ...
Safe spaces, white tears and getting kicked out of a women's group - by two men
Lately I've been kicked out of a couple of groups I belong to, for daring to question received wisdom or refusing to go along with the rules of identity politics.
For instance, I was thrown out my university women's group -- by two men! -- for questioning an article on Jezebel about "cultural appropriation."
They explained that the group was supposed to ...
Ghost rider in the sky: Scientists use lasers to project movie onto clouds
A green ghost rider appeared in the sky over the British city of Nottingham when scientists started testing a newly developed projecting device which allows the beaming of moving images directly onto clouds for the first time ever.
The image of a galloping horse rider was projected onto the clouds from a distance of 50 meters by a special laser-based projection ...
Chinaâ€™s stock market is crashing, and the Chinese are trying to do the exact same thing America did in 1929
â€˜While European attention is focused on Greece, China is having a serious market meltdown.
After exploding earlier in the year because of deregulation, Chinaâ€™s benchmark Shanghai Composite has collapsed a crazy 29% since the highs of early June. Chinaâ€™s other stock markets have had similarly steep falls.
Bloomberg notes that the crisis is closely mirroring the 1929 Wall Street crash, which led ...
|More News » |