The Laws of Robotics Need to Expand

There are few times when science fiction meets reality. In fact, science fiction is the source of most modern inventions. An artist creates an imaginary object that can do remarkable things. That imagination inspires modern inventors to make those objects a reality. There is no better example of this than robots. 

There is something about the human mind that makes us experiment with every knowledge we get. Humans are fascinating creatures. The human body is the most intricate machine in the world. Recreating this machine into an artificial avatar is something inspired by science fiction. This is how robots were born. 

But as soon as robots become a reality, there was a need to restrict them from ‘taking over’. This is when an author wrote the “three laws of robotics” that would govern all robots in the world. But as technology increases, there is a need to develop the initial laws into new ones.

The Three Laws of Robotics

Isaac Asimov By Phillip Leonian from New York World
Isaac Asimov By Phillip Leonian from New York World

Back in 1942, a profound author and biochemist wrote down three lines in his science fiction book that would become history. Isaac Asimov laid down three laws that would eventually govern all the robotics of the world. These laws are the “Three Laws of Robotics“. He published them in his “robot stories” that instantly became the symbol of modern robotic development. This is one of those few times when science fiction makes it into reality. The Three Laws of Robotics would then be the mantra for all robotic machines to ever walk the Earth. 

For those of you who are not familiar with the laws, they are as follows.

  1. Robots are not to harm humans, or, via inaction, allow harm to any human being.
  2. They are to obey human orders unless it violates the first law.
  3. Robots should protect their own existence, as long as it does not conflict with the first two laws. 

These laws became an important part of science fiction and also real life. All robots that are in operation now follow these three laws. Asimov stated that as robotics develops into more autonomy, there should be strict regulations that given them. These regulations should ensure that no human is put under harm’s way. 

Now, robotics is at a whole new level of achievement. AI, software automation and factory robotics are more advanced than ever before. This makes the situation even dangerous. The dangers posed by the machines need to be addressed beforehand. 

The Four New Laws of Robotics

Frank Pasquale Por Stifterverband - YouTube
Frank Pasquale Por Stifterverband – YouTube

Back in 1952, robotics was simply a work of fiction. As strong and steady as Asimov’s laws were, modern problems require modern solutions. Back then, Asimov didn’t think about AI and autonomous software. But now, as fully autonomous machines are coming closer to reality, there is an urgent need to keep them under control. 

This is why a professor from the Brooklyn School of Law proposed to expand the laws of Asimov. Frank Pasquale adds four new laws in his book New Laws of Robotics: Defending Human Expertise in the Age of AI. The four new laws of robotics are as follows. 

  1. Robotics and digital systems should “complement professionals” and not replace them. 
  2. Robotics and AI “should not counterfeit humanity”.
  3. Robotic systems and AI should not intensify “Zero-sum arms races”.
  4. Robotic systems should be forced to ” specify the identity of their creator (s), controller (s) and the owner (s).”

In these four new laws, we see that there is an implication of control over the autonomous systems. The new laws arise from his insistence that control over robotics and their roles in the society shouldn’t be left alone to Silicon Valley. His laws insist that robotics are to complement humans and not replace them entirely. Robotics should be used to enrich and support humans in all kinds of jobs rather than taking over. These enrichments are more promising in the sectors of health care and education. 

How do we make this work?

For this to be effective, policymakers and regulators must be open to the democratization of the outcomes. There should be control over AI that controls and cheats on innocent people. Hampering over such AI is a vital role that the regulators must take part in. 

We already know about the AI espionage wars and how AI is pulling the strings of the society from behind. Transparency is one main aspect of the four new laws. AI algorithms and robotics are to support everyone. So, everyone must have a clear view of the works and systems of AI. Regulations and control over the systems should be in effect to prevent them from overpowering us. 

“We do not simply need more A.I., we need better AI.”

– Prof. Frank Pasquale

Read more on Asimov’s Three Laws Helped Shape A.I. and Robotics. We Need Four More.

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  1. An international regulatory platform should emerge.
    I will put it as an example. Safety in the construction industry.
    In some countries, construction companies currently pay their consultants or safety technicians to monitor, train, and supply personal protective equipment to their employees.
    Sometimes they find themselves between a rock and a hard place if they are not serious enough when making decisions.
    The employer pays the expenses to improve safety.
    If we transfer it to AI and Robotics, I leave it to the discretion of the reader’s imagination what may be happening or what will happen in the future.
    I hope to be wrong.

Lei Jun – President of xiaomi

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