As we wait for that world where astromech droids will cater to our every need—or killer T-800 cyborgs will hunt us like rats—it's comforting to know there are bureaucrats and lawyers already thinking up ways to protect idiots and evade legal liability.
With signs like this:
"Please Do Not Board The Elevator With The Robot."
This is an actual sign posted at Stanford Hospital in Palo Alto, Calif., where a guy nearly got stuck in an elevator with a medical robot.
"I remembered thinking, `Whoa, this is scary,' as it whirled around, almost knocking me down," Microsoft researcher Eric Horvitz told the Associated Press. "Then, I thought, `What if I were a patient?' There could be big issues here."
Horvitz assembled a team of scientists this year when he was president of the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence and asked them to explore the future of human-robot interactions. A report on their discussions is due next year.
Horvitz said his panel will recommend more research into the psychological reactions humans have to robotic systems. The group, he said, also suggests machines be designed with the ability to explain their reasoning to humans.
How's about Asimov's three laws of robotics? Or emotion chips with behavior inhibitors? Or just make the robots sign hold-harmless agreements?
What do you think of these efforts? Should robots carry warning labels like packs of cigarettes?