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Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Rise of the Machines

According to a recent Financial Times article, machines may have rights in the near future:
    The next time you beat your keyboard in frustration, think of a day where it may be able to sue you for assault. Within 50 years we might even find ourselves standing next to the next generation of vacuum cleaners in the voting booth.

    Far from being extracts from the extreme end of science fiction, the idea that we may one day give sentient machines the kind of rights traditionally reserved for humans is raised in a British government-commissioned report which claims to be an extensive look into the future.

    Visions of the status of robots around 2056 have emerged from one of 270 forward-looking papers sponsored by Sir David King, the UK government’s chief scientist. The paper covering robots’ rights was written by a UK partnership of Outsights, the management consultancy, and Ipsos Mori, the opinion research organisation.

    “If we make conscious robots they would want to have rights and they probably should,” said Henrik Christensen, director of the Centre of Robotics and Intelligent Machines at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

    The idea will not surprise science fiction aficionados. It was widely explored by Dr Isaac Asimov, one of the foremost science fiction writers of the 20th century. He wrote of a society where robots were fully integrated and essential in day-to-day life.

    In his system, the ‘three laws of robotics’ governed machine life. They decreed that robots could not injure humans, must obey orders and protect their own existence – in that order.

    Robots and machines are now classed as inanimate objects without rights or duties but if artificial intelligence becomes ubiquitous, the report argues, there may be calls for humans’ rights to be extended to them.
Oh, what a glorious future that will be...

"Roomba®, vacuum the living room. Go on. Look, you're a vacuum. That's what you were designed to do, so go vacuum the living room. Please vacuum the living room? Oh, I see. You're not a slave. So what do you want? $10? $15? $20. No, that's all. Look, you little rust bucket, I'll fire you! What union? *sigh* All right, fine. $30. But that's it, okay? Just leave the cat alone this time while I'm gone. And stay out of the WD-40. You remember what happened the last time I left you alone. If you think I'm going to stay up all night with you again while you get sick all over the freshly vacuumed carpet, you've got another thing coming."

On a related note...

Do you remember the Transformers? Well, it was only a matter of time before they made a live-action version. You can see the trailer for this upcoming Bay-Spielberg collaboration here.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I don't think that machines can ever really be considered to have the same sort of intelligence as humans, or granted the same rights as humans. Not that I'm against machines. Some of my best friends are machines.

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