Tag Archives: Robin Murphy

Replacing Asimov’s Laws of Responsible Robotics?; more thoughts on innovation in Canada

David Woods, professor of integrated systems engineering at Ohio State University, and Robin Murphy of Texas A&M University propose three new robot laws in the current issue of IEEE Intelligent Systems in the media release on Science Daily. According to Woods,

“When you think about it, our cultural view of robots has always been anti-people, pro-robot,” … “The philosophy has been, ‘sure, people make mistakes, but robots will be better — a perfect version of ourselves.’ We wanted to write three new laws to get people thinking about the human-robot relationship in more realistic, grounded ways.”

This view contrasts somewhat with Mary King’s work on the differences between Japanese and Western perspectives on robots. She acknowledges the fascination and anti-people perspectives in the West but notes pervasive fears while contrasting them with Japanese perspectives on robots where they are viewed in a more purely beneficial way and as being related to nature. You can read her work here or you can check out my previous posts about Mary King’s work in my series on robots and human enhancement, July 22 and 23 2009 are particularly relevant.

Before looking at the new laws, here’s a refresher of Asimov’s three:

  • A robot may not injure a human being, or through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
  • A robot must obey orders given to it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
  • A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

Woods points out that Asimov was a writer and his laws were developed as a literary device. Woods’ and Murpy’s proposed laws are these,

  • A human may not deploy a robot without the human-robot work system meeting the highest legal and professional standards of safety and ethics.
  • A robot must respond to humans as appropriate for their roles.
  • A robot must be endowed with sufficient situated autonomy to protect its own existence as long as such protection provides smooth transfer of control which does not conflict with the First and Second Laws.

I see Rob Annan at Don’t leave Canada behind has written some more on innovation in Canada. He highlights a couple of articles in MacLean’s magazine, one focusing on John Manley, former Liberal deputy Prime Minister in Jean Chretien’s cabinet, and a two-part series on Canada’s big five universities. Manley who’s in the process of becoming president of the Canadian Council of Chief Executives has some rather pithy (compared to the usual) things to say about innovation and Canadian business. What makes this interesting is the group he will be leading has 150 members, the chief executives of Canada’s biggest corporations, who claim $3.5 trillion in assets and $800 billion in revenues.

Meanwhile, the presidents of Canada’s big five universities point out that Canadian business does not develop and promote its own research and development labs relying instead on university research. Do read Rob’s blog for more discussion about this.

And since it’s Friday, I’m going to mention Raincoaster’s upcoming 3-day novel workshop on Bowen Island (Vancouver, Canada) which will be held on the Labour Day Weekend. I don’t have any details but will post them as soon as I get them. If you’re curious about Raincoaster, you can check out the regular blog here or the blog that has information about other courses here.