the first law

The first robot to autonomously and intentionally break Asimov’s first law, which states: A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm. The robot decides for each person it detects if it should injure them not in a way the creator can not predict.

While there currently are “killer” drones and sentry guns, there is either always some person in the loop to make decisions or the system is a glorified tripwire. The way this robot differs in what exists is the decision making process it makes. A land mine for instance is made to always go off when stepped on, so no decision. A drone has a person in the loop, so no machine process. A radar operated gun again is basically the same as a land mine. Sticking your hand into a running blender is your decision, with a certain outcome. The fact that sometimes the robot decides not to hurt a person (in a way that is not predictable) is actually what brings about the important questions and sets it apart. The past systems also are made to kill when tripped or when a trigger is pulled, hurting and injuring for no purpose is usually seen as a moral wrong. Obviously, a needle is a minimum amount of injury, however – now that this class of robot exists, it will have to be confronted.

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Fast Company