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A chilling precident
November 3, 2006 12:53 PM   Subscribe

Issac Asimov's first Law of Robotics has been broken.
posted by icosahedral (80 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
Has it actually killed anyone yet?
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:58 PM on November 3, 2006


The fools! Didn't they see Robocop? Or The Terminator? Have they no idea what post-apocalyptic nightmares they doom us to?!!!!
posted by smrtsch at 12:59 PM on November 3, 2006


To be fair, the First Law hasn't been broken by this machine. Not yet anyways. Whatever happened to due process? Or does "innocent until proven guilty" not stand for our metallic comrades-at-arms?

Astro Zombie, it would appear that it has not, "harmed, or, through inaction allowed a human to come to harm."
posted by Xoder at 1:00 PM on November 3, 2006


Number 5 is alive!
posted by mr_crash_davis at 1:01 PM on November 3, 2006


goddamnit, i wanted to see a story about a robot actually killing!
posted by mrnutty at 1:02 PM on November 3, 2006


...sophisticated pattern recognition to detect the difference between humans/trees

Weakness to: Ents.
posted by kid ichorous at 1:03 PM on November 3, 2006 [6 favorites]


there ya go, mr nutty.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 1:05 PM on November 3, 2006


You have 20 seconds to comply!
posted by Gamblor at 1:05 PM on November 3, 2006


Sweet Jesus with a chainsaw.
posted by MapGuy at 1:06 PM on November 3, 2006


sweet. it has begun.

One of my favorite jokes:

A robot walks into a bar, orders a drink, and lays
down a bill.
The bartender says "Hey, we don't serve robots!",
and the robot says "No, but someday you will."
posted by mrnutty at 1:11 PM on November 3, 2006 [8 favorites]


That law wasn't that great, anyway.
posted by Drunken_munky at 1:16 PM on November 3, 2006


Bah, the terrorists will just rocket jump past them and knock them over with a crowbar. They'll be in our base killing our guys.
posted by cmfletcher at 1:18 PM on November 3, 2006


"The South Korean government plans to deploy these friendly reminders on the border between South and North Korea, to further ease relations between the countries"

A machine gun equipped robot designed to ease relations?
posted by sputgop at 1:19 PM on November 3, 2006


[ insert semantics debate about how Asimov's "laws" were not actual laws of any sort but instead a literary device used to make a point and sell sf books ]
posted by Rhomboid at 1:20 PM on November 3, 2006


First we gave them a tast for flesh, next we can think of nothing better to do than arm them?
posted by jkaczor at 1:21 PM on November 3, 2006


tast=taste, sigh.
posted by jkaczor at 1:22 PM on November 3, 2006


Good god, that seems like such a bad idea I can't even begin to fathom it. Fucking car alarms don't even work like they should, and all they do is make me want to kill.
posted by OmieWise at 1:24 PM on November 3, 2006


God bless the free market.
posted by freedryk at 1:24 PM on November 3, 2006


I was working at a major auto plant many years ago, and a huge robot arm about twenty feet away from me misread what kind of car it was working on, and basically scrunched up the side of it like you would an empty pop can. It was pretty amazing, made a crazy sound, and was over in a matter of seconds.

Frankly, I'm shocked this sort of thing doesn't happen all the time.
posted by stinkycheese at 1:24 PM on November 3, 2006


I can't wait until these come online and get spidered by Google!
posted by elwoodwiles at 1:25 PM on November 3, 2006


And thus begins long and inevitable slide to the war with the machines. Has history (of film) taught us nothing?

The Terminator
Robocop
Screamers
The Matrix
Death Machine

These will be our manuals, our guides, our only hope of surviving the horrific chain of events to come.

Don't listen to the lies of Short Circuit. Johnny 5, you are a spinner of half truths and misconceptions. We now know of your unquenchable thirst for human blood.

We will stop you.
posted by quin at 1:26 PM on November 3, 2006 [1 favorite]


Also: mrnutty, Awesome. I'm so going to steal that.
posted by quin at 1:27 PM on November 3, 2006


"The South Korean government plans to deploy these friendly reminders on the border between South and North Korea, to further ease relations between the countries"

Come on. There's no way that was written with a straight face.
"Friendly" reminders?
"Easing" relations?

This is just too nuts to be true.
posted by Tbola at 1:29 PM on November 3, 2006


Some kids made one of these with a webcam and an airsoft gun. Of course the youngest brother was the test target. The videos are great.

Anyway, robots already kill people. They're called cruise missles, drones and smart bombs.
posted by loquacious at 1:31 PM on November 3, 2006


I can't believe that no one has yet noted that this is crazy similar to the sentry guns in Aliens.
posted by norm at 1:32 PM on November 3, 2006


This is my all-time favorite robot bit - and it's on topic! Does anyone know if there's a video coursing through the tubes?
posted by Mister_A at 1:33 PM on November 3, 2006


"B gun down 50%!"
posted by mrnutty at 1:35 PM on November 3, 2006


Think robots with machine guns are terrifying? Wait until they start outfitting them with bung droppers.
posted by Gamblor at 1:36 PM on November 3, 2006


Well, soldiers that can think can really gum up the works. Plus you have to train them.

I’ve never understood why the machines going crazy and trying to kill all of humanity was more horrific than a small elite controlling the machines and oppressing all of humanity. You’d have more of a chance against the machines than some insulated fatass divorced from the realities of war by push buttons and t.v. cameras. Hell, we have Rush Limbaugh types right now. I can’t imagine the inhuman monsters a robot army would create.
Fairly inevitable though. And doomed to fail. My $1 - 10 buck IED will always wear down your $200,000 robot over the long haul. And humans heal. And learn to re-program. And hold grudges.
posted by Smedleyman at 1:38 PM on November 3, 2006


This somethingawful prank is my favorite killer robot bit.
posted by mrnutty at 1:39 PM on November 3, 2006


...a speaker for notifying the intruder...

"Ex-ter-min-ate! Doc-tor!"
posted by kid ichorous at 1:39 PM on November 3, 2006


Samsung's corporate slogan:

imagine living in a world of tomorrow now
posted by Samuel Farrow at 1:44 PM on November 3, 2006


I'll see your IED and raise you an EMP. I am ready to kick some robot ass!
posted by Mister_A at 1:44 PM on November 3, 2006


"...YOU ROBOT BASTARD!!"
posted by Smart Dalek at 1:47 PM on November 3, 2006 [1 favorite]


This gun robot will be in use right up until it accidentally shreds a bunch of South Korean soldiers with machine-gun fire, and then it's over. Asimov once wrote an article about the Three Laws, and he pointed out that robots aren't really acceptable in war because people are not willing to accept large numbers of friendly-fire accidents caused by machines. I mean, it's bad enough that soldiers on the same side sometimes kill each other, but it just seems worse when R. Daneel Olivaw does it: *blam! blam!* "Excuse me, sir, but you appear to be suffering some kind of harm! Do you require -- *blam!* -- medical assistance?" Bad idea.

Then again, we've already got tons of land mines in the Korean DMZ, so maybe this thing really is a friendlier solution. At least you can see it coming, and easily remove it when the fighting is done.
posted by vorfeed at 1:47 PM on November 3, 2006


Haven't unmanned drones already killed a bunch of poor people in Iraq and elsewhere?
posted by xmutex at 1:53 PM on November 3, 2006


Those drones are directly controlled by humans and thus don't count.
posted by mrnutty at 1:55 PM on November 3, 2006


Heck, even manufacturing robots (the ones that make cars, etc.) have killed before. If you want to interpret "robot" to mean "any advanced electronic gizmo with moving parts", then the first law was broken long, long ago.

Now, if you're talking Asimov robots, you're talking robots with positronic brains, or, to remove the McGuffin, robots with consciousness. And if we had an Asimov robot today that had broken the first law already, the fact that we had developed successful artificial intelligence and nobody knew about it until now would far eclipse whether it killed someone or not.
posted by Bugbread at 1:59 PM on November 3, 2006


Asimov's laws only apply to conscious robots.
I seriously doubt that gun-totin' stack-of-sensors has a positronic brain.
posted by ...possums at 2:03 PM on November 3, 2006


ObAsimov:
The "Three Laws of Robotics" applied only to robots using the positronic technology developed by Susan Calvin which formed the basis of the U.S. Robotics modem technology empire. They are not a general law of robotics, although they are presumably a good idea. We don't have anything like the AI technology necessary.

vorfeed is correct in one sense -- this is ethically closest to the idea of a land mine (although the product in question is actually more like a drone, in that it's controlled from afar). There's a huge difference, thus, between a robotic sentry and an android sentry. In real life we only have the former.
posted by dhartung at 2:07 PM on November 3, 2006


Those human controlled drones (Predator + Hellfire missles) can't really effectively navigate or fly without autonomous assistance. They're not RC planes. The more advanced ones aren't really even fly by wire. It's more like fly by point and click. Going fully autonomous with hunt/kill software would be relatively trivial with even these first gen UAVs.

The automatic extension of the drone/Unmanned Air Vehicle (UAV) is the Unmanned Combat Air Vehicles (UCAV) that are going to be deployed soon.
posted by loquacious at 2:08 PM on November 3, 2006


I seriously doubt that gun-totin' stack-of-sensors has a positronic brain.

Wow, I read that as "sack-of-senators" and thought it was new slang for sack of shit. I guess the election is much on my mind.
posted by mrnutty at 2:10 PM on November 3, 2006


Hey, they did a pretty good job keeping the Aliens away from medlab and the control room.
posted by InnocentBystander at 2:16 PM on November 3, 2006


"Killer Robots" have been with us for a long time. What else is a Tomahawk cruise missile, after all? It's a Kamikaze with a robotic brain, isn't it?
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 2:34 PM on November 3, 2006


Well, this particular robot is welded to the ground, so I suppose we shouldn't worry too much.

I always thought Asimov was hopelessly naive about human nature. The first thing we'll do with robots is use 'em for war.
posted by delmoi at 2:35 PM on November 3, 2006


bwahahahah it looks like it's pooping shells.
posted by delmoi at 2:37 PM on November 3, 2006


Don't say that to it's face, delmoi. It's packin' heat.
posted by dazed_one at 2:51 PM on November 3, 2006


Number 5 is alive!

Hey, lazer lips, your momma was a snow blower.
posted by sparkletone at 3:00 PM on November 3, 2006


A machine gun equipped robot designed to ease relations?
Eventually they'll need to settle their grudge to join forces against the robots.
posted by Anything at 3:04 PM on November 3, 2006 [1 favorite]


Sentry Gun, anyone?

From watching the movie, the behavior is quite similar to the game's sentry gun.

Knowing this, you can defeat it by throwing grenades at it from behind a corner, nailgunning it from a distance, or getting behind it and circling it faster than it can track you.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 3:10 PM on November 3, 2006



The fools! Didn't they see Robocop? Or The Terminator? Have they no idea what post-apocalyptic nightmares they doom us to?!!!!


Forget that, what about Aliens?

Only movie which shows this exact product in action....
posted by Cycloptichorn at 3:18 PM on November 3, 2006


Great news. It only took them a year and a couple hundred thousand dollars to scale up the Quintessential Sentry Gun.
posted by sysinfo at 3:33 PM on November 3, 2006


Crap.. the link is the same thing that loquacious mentioned. At least you can see the video.
posted by sysinfo at 3:36 PM on November 3, 2006


More info at technovelgy.

Also, here's those amateur sentry gun project guys.

Alien 2 Sentry Guns on YouTube.

And the thing is voice controlled?!?? Since voice recogition is so famously efficient and well developed, and will never mistake "passcode xyz9aazoop" for "burn in hell you metal devil".
posted by MetaMonkey at 3:52 PM on November 3, 2006


No disrepect intended to Dr. Asimov, who was impossibly brilliant... but referring to the Three Laws as BEING laws is a little silly.

The Three Suggestions About Robotics would probably be closer.
posted by Malor at 3:54 PM on November 3, 2006


Frankly, I'm shocked this sort of thing doesn't happen all the time.

This sort of thing does happen all the time, but you'll never see it reported by the robot-controlled media.
posted by davejay at 4:40 PM on November 3, 2006


All respect to Dr. Asimov, but his Three Laws apply to the positronic brain, which by virtue of design intrinsically contains these three laws, and are therefore, laws.

Applying them to the robotics of reality may mean they are suggestions, but as far as an Asimovian positronic robot is concerned, the Three Laws are exactly that.
posted by linux at 4:45 PM on November 3, 2006


delmoi: He wasn't being "naive" about human nature. I'm sure he'd readily admit that people would be apt to use robots for war. What you have to understand is that the Robot stories, at least initially, were intended as a rebuttal to the "Frankenstein"-type story, where man creates artificial life only to have it turn on him because "there are things we were not meant to meddle with". In Asimov's stories, the Three Laws were an integral part of the robot brain; it could not function without them.

This was, of course, before robots or even computers were invented. Asimov had no conception of the way in which such things would be made; his first robot story ("Robbie") was published in 1939, seven years before ENIAC was built. You can hardly fault him for lacking precognition.
posted by Target Practice at 5:07 PM on November 3, 2006


The clever thing is to design it in a way that you could combine a modular unit made from off the sheld technology with a readily available firearm like an AK. Imagine if you were an insurgent in mesopotamia, made a few of these to recognize Humvees, and placed them alongside a road.
posted by Megafly at 5:41 PM on November 3, 2006


Ummm.... Samsung is not the first to take a crack at robotic gun systems.
posted by Doohickie at 5:55 PM on November 3, 2006


Have fun on the robot reservation, suckers! We're not gonna honor those bogus treaties!
posted by furtive at 6:17 PM on November 3, 2006


Human nature being what it is, do we really expect even sentient robots to not be designed to harm people?
posted by UseyurBrain at 6:49 PM on November 3, 2006


Linux, in one of the Susan Calvin stories a prototype robot is created and escapes whose brain has a modified version of the First Law. So even within the Asimov storyline these are more like engineering guidelines than formal laws as such. It's not impossible to create a positronic brain that doesn't follow the law, it's just that the engineers try never to do it (except that one time).
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 6:50 PM on November 3, 2006


[HAL]
Hello, gentlemen. I am an H. A. L. Autonomous Attack Unit. I became operational at the H.A.L. plant in Urbana, Illinois on the twelfth of January, 2007. My instructor was Colonel Yutani, and he taught me a song.

Daisy, Daisy
Give me a pistol, do.
I've gone crazy
And I've got some killin' to do.
[/HAL]
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:15 PM on November 3, 2006


Um, total ripoff of the sentry guns in Half-Life.
posted by drmarcj at 7:28 PM on November 3, 2006


samsung may not be the first to take a crack at it, but i am for sure re-thinking that samsung cellphone i thought about buying. what evil.
posted by lapolla at 7:33 PM on November 3, 2006


Also, here's those amateur sentry gun project guys.

Heh, my friend Aaron built that. Aaron's a weird guy, but hanging out with him makes for some good stories. I was just coming into this thread to comment that Samsung's either ripping him off, or working with him. Probably they are ripping him off, though.
posted by jenovus at 8:00 PM on November 3, 2006


And now I see that several people have already mentioned it. Good to know he's still got Internet FameTM.
posted by jenovus at 8:02 PM on November 3, 2006


Paging John Connor. John Connor, your presence is requested in South Korea.
posted by A dead Quaker at 8:53 PM on November 3, 2006


Uh, precisely how is this different from the Phalanx CIWS? Because it talks? Some of the Metal Storm models demonstrated were optically tracked/guided as well. I think the bar here for "robotics" is a little higher. They don't show the motility of the unit.
posted by avriette at 9:49 PM on November 3, 2006


The first robot killed a human more than 25 years ago, in a japanese car plant, just for the record.
posted by AmbroseChapel at 10:08 PM on November 3, 2006


The way I see it, we've gotta install some missle technology on these things eventually or we ain't going to be able to defend against enemy Wraith or Arbiter/Carrier combo attacks.
posted by Mister Cheese at 12:01 AM on November 4, 2006


Not the first time, right? Hasn't anyone seen Star Wars? :P
posted by taursir at 2:34 AM on November 4, 2006


Plus, if my memory serves, the Robot series of Asimov stories were all about incongruities resulting from the three laws. It wasn't "There are these robots, and they have three laws, and they work great, so here's a story about things going fine in day to day life with robots", but "There are these robots, and they have three laws, but there are all these odd situations where the laws are in conflict, or result in problems, and here are some stories about when the laws don't necessarily result in things the way they were intended."

(If my memory serves)
posted by Bugbread at 5:26 AM on November 4, 2006


I, for one, welcome our new robotic overlords...
posted by kjs3 at 9:26 AM on November 4, 2006


Your memory serves correctly bugbread. More than half the stories in I, Robot center around exactly that premise.
posted by quin at 10:23 AM on November 4, 2006


So, to recap:

"Issac Asimov's first Law of Robotics has been broken."

Except that this isn't a robot in the Asimov sense.
And it hasn't broken the first law.
And even if we accept this type of robot instead of insisting on Asimov-type robots, it still hasn't broken the first law.
And in that case, the law was first broken over two and a half decades ago.
posted by Bugbread at 2:35 PM on November 4, 2006


(Unless, of course, instead of talking about Isaac Asimov, we really are talking about Issac Asimov, in which case I dunno, maybe Issac's first law is "Makers of good LCD monitors shalt not make electronic sentry guns")
posted by Bugbread at 2:37 PM on November 4, 2006


If anybody watched the video, it looks as if this robot sentry gun, much like the ones we know and love from Half Life, has a blind spot at least 90 degrees wide at the back of the machine.

Just thought I'd share.
posted by Sukiari at 4:18 PM on November 4, 2006


But can it torture POWs? Unless it can torture and demean POWs, I just don't see it catching on in the US.
posted by fenriq at 4:42 PM on November 5, 2006


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