Thursday, July 2, 2015

Drawing Lines Around Robots

It was a bad day at the factory. A robot killed one of the workers.

It is hard to say that without making it sound like science fiction. Nevertheless the tragic death of a worker installing a robot in an automobile assembly plant shows how it is possible to be overly complacent about the harm that robots can do. Machines that have the innate tendency to recognize and react, coupled with sufficient strength to do harm, need to have what you might call personal space. It may take human workers some time to develop accurate intuition about this, and in the meantime, we will have to draw rigid lines around the robots to stay safe.