Robot breaks childs finger
July 24, 2022 10:22 PM   Subscribe

A chess-playing robot broke the finger of a 7-year-old boy who was competing against it during a recent tournament in Moscow. ... Officials, in comments to a pair of state news agencies translated from Russian, appeared to place at least some of the blame for the incident on the boy.

Chess is now a contact sport? What about the laws of robotics?
posted by NotLost (40 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
 
And so it begins...
posted by thatwhichfalls at 10:37 PM on July 24 [13 favorites]


the game of chess
is like a sword fight
you must think first
before you move
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 10:39 PM on July 24 [6 favorites]


OSHA.
posted by clavdivs at 10:57 PM on July 24 [12 favorites]


Moxon's Master by Ambrose Bierce, published in 1899
posted by Harvey Kilobit at 11:18 PM on July 24 [8 favorites]


Wow, those OSHA reports are really something. I'd love to learn more. I wonder whether there should be better protection somehow.
posted by NotLost at 11:26 PM on July 24


It's not the finger-snapping chess robots you have to watch out for, it's the Telsas and other "self-driving" murder vehicles.
posted by krisjohn at 1:09 AM on July 25 [8 favorites]


What about the laws of robotics?

The laws. of robotics are. FICTIONALLLL

It's not the finger-snapping chess robots you have to watch out for, it's the Telsas and other "self-driving" murder vehicles.

Clearly it's now both of those things you have to watch out for.
posted by a car full of lions at 2:12 AM on July 25 [10 favorites]


When I worked on industrial robots, we had a rule, DO NOT PUT YOUR HANDS (or any other body part) IN THE ROBOT'S WORK ENVELOPE (until after you have shut it down from a safe distance). The "work envelope" is the space that the robot can potentially reach with its arm extended. There are just too many ways for a software error (like a gimbal lock in your reverse kinematics calculation) to cause the robot to make unexpected motions.

In the case of the chess-playing robot, it's using force-feedback to try to detect when it has successfully gripped the chess piece, but in my experience these force-feedback sensors are not perfectly reliable and if you naïvely program the robot to keep gripping until a specified force is measured then every once in a while it will destroy the sample it is trying to pick up.

If you are absolutely determined to create a situation where people have to be inside the robot's work envelope, then for safety you need to design the robot to be too feeble to injure the user, by making some parts of the arm thin and brittle so that they will break before human flesh does.
posted by cyanistes at 4:13 AM on July 25 [58 favorites]


I love how the Russian officials repeatedly keep blaming the 7-year-old for what the robot did (and, by extension, what the programmers did).
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 4:19 AM on July 25 [18 favorites]


What they aren’t saying is that the robot was designed as part of a Beat Generation simulator, and the programmers were in sufficiently precise on the “snap fingers” routine.

More seriously: don’t injure children in product displays and then blame them for it.
posted by GenjiandProust at 4:22 AM on July 25 [1 favorite]


The only winning move is not to play.
posted by urbanwhaleshark at 4:23 AM on July 25 [27 favorites]


Let the Wookiee win.
posted by Etrigan at 4:30 AM on July 25 [19 favorites]


With hindsight, entering GLaDOS into the junior chess championship probably wasn't such a good idea.
posted by Major Clanger at 4:30 AM on July 25 [14 favorites]


If you are absolutely determined to create a situation where people have to be inside the robot's work envelope

That video of the LARGE INDUSTRIAL ROBOT ARM operating inches from the kid's face is just crazypants.

These kids are playing against software. Is there some reason the boards couldn't have been represented by an LCD screen? Did they use the robot arm because it looked cool, or was there some asshole in the design process who was all "it can't be authentic chess unless there are physical pieces to manipulate therefore we need a robot arm"?
posted by RonButNotStupid at 5:40 AM on July 25 [18 favorites]


Nary an e-stop in sight!

The least they could have done would have been to put a large red stop button next to each kid. At least then we could say they had at least thought for a moment about the safety of the children.

But as they said, it's the kid's fault for not respecting the robot...
posted by RonButNotStupid at 5:46 AM on July 25 [4 favorites]


In my experience of Russian culture, the victim of a crime or injury is often assigned some or all of the blame.

I saw many examples of this. I was mugged on the subway and it was my fault for carrying a bag. A friend was assaulted and it was her fault for walking at dusk. It's a different concept of blame.
posted by fake at 5:55 AM on July 25 [12 favorites]


“This, of course, was bad.”
posted by Mchelly at 6:03 AM on July 25 [4 favorites]


Just another digital glitch.
posted by kinnakeet at 6:15 AM on July 25


So much for “a droid don’t pull people’s arms out of their sockets when they lose.”
posted by snofoam at 6:28 AM on July 25 [11 favorites]


Wow. The poor kid!

I saw many examples of this. I was mugged on the subway and it was my fault for carrying a bag. A friend was assaulted and it was her fault for walking at dusk. It's a different concept of blame.


Is this not a universal attitude? Very familiar to me.
posted by Zumbador at 6:36 AM on July 25 [6 favorites]


In the US, for all of its faults and shortcomings, victim-blaming behavior is much less acceptable in many (but not all) circumstances than it once was. We expect to have the freedom (I *suppose* that’s the correct word) to exist without infringement from others’ stupidity; hence, why we’re so aggravated when our individual privacy is violated. I should absolutely have the expectation to walk around at dusk or dawn or carry a backpack or purse. People who think it is okay to bother me when I am obviously not interested in their business would not be very happy with the result. Also, I mean, this is the South and there are concealed carry laws in place.
posted by sara is disenchanted at 7:29 AM on July 25 [4 favorites]


I saw many examples of this. I was mugged on the subway and it was my fault for carrying a bag. A friend was assaulted and it was her fault for walking at dusk. It's a different concept of blame.

The US is the exact same, we are just more subtle about it.
posted by The_Vegetables at 7:43 AM on July 25 [6 favorites]


I have long had it in the back of my mind to build a chess-playing robot. I have half the electronics and mechanical skills, but very little persistence to learn the other half.

Is there some reason the boards couldn't have been represented by an LCD screen?
One of my many objections to the staging of the Kasparov-Deep Blue match was the human involvement on the part of the Blue team.
There existed the technology for Deep Blue to make the moves itself- why have a human do it?

So those are two thoughts I'm re-evaluating. What could go wrong?
posted by MtDewd at 8:26 AM on July 25


Thou shalt not make a machine in the likeness of a human mind?
posted by exlotuseater at 8:52 AM on July 25 [1 favorite]


These violent delights have violent ends.
posted by kokaku at 9:14 AM on July 25 [5 favorites]


Once upon a time, I had a "computer" chess set that moved the pieces by vibrating the board. Seems like that might be a safer solution.
posted by abraxasaxarba at 9:33 AM on July 25 [2 favorites]


Nary an e-stop in sight!
They left them off so they could teach the robot to intimidate it's opponent if needed.
posted by The_Vegetables at 9:35 AM on July 25




Well, this is what you get if you don't comply in twenty seconds.
posted by kirkaracha at 10:24 AM on July 25 [2 favorites]


Excerpts, bolded: According to officials from the Moscow Chess Federation, the child continued his participation in the event after his finger was placed in a plaster cast.

“It happens, a coincidence. It is necessary, apparently, to warn the children additionally,” federation vice president Sergey Smagin told RIA Novosti. “It is extremely strange that this happened, but it happened, it happens.

At the time, the robot was playing a chess match against three children at once.
[Russian news outlet] Baza described the victim as one of the “30 strongest” chess players in Moscow under 9 years old.

The robot was familiar to chess officials, having been in use, according to Smagin, for approximately 15 years. He added that, to his recollection, it was the first time anything like this had happened.
[...] “It will be necessary to analyze why this happened,” Smagin said in Russian. “The robot has a very talented inventor. It may be necessary to install an additional protection system.
posted by Iris Gambol at 11:04 AM on July 25 [1 favorite]


I'd let you watch, I would invite you, but the robots we use would not excite you.
posted by Servo5678 at 11:43 AM on July 25 [7 favorites]


It's a different concept of blame.

...we are just more subtle about it.


Not really. What ever the situation, she probably asked for it.
posted by BlueHorse at 11:44 AM on July 25 [2 favorites]


It's a different concept of blame.

...we are just more subtle about it.

Not really. What ever the situation, she probably asked for it.


FYI it is called The Just World Bias/Hypothesis/Fallacy and there is a lot of research on it. It's fascinating, pervasive and perverse.
posted by srboisvert at 4:27 PM on July 25 [1 favorite]


The boy knows what he did.
posted by rhizome at 5:24 PM on July 25 [4 favorites]


I'd let you watch, I would invite you, but the robots we use would not excite you.

I'd let you watch. I would invite you
But the bots we use are gonna fight you
posted by Xiphias Gladius at 7:09 PM on July 25 [6 favorites]


FYI it is called The Just World Bias/Hypothesis/Fallacy and there is a lot of research on it. It's fascinating, pervasive and perverse.

Every Sunday-Monday-ish there is something on MF that pushes my anxiety buttons and I should really stop visiting this site on those days. Glad to know about this, it makes a lot of sense, it explains so much, and I feel like we are doomed a little more certainly than I had already understood
posted by treepour at 7:36 PM on July 25


"A computer once beat me at chess, but it was no match for me at kickboxing." - Emo Phillips
posted by JohnFromGR at 3:37 AM on July 26 [1 favorite]


The robot was familiar to chess officials, having been in use, according to Smagin, for approximately 15 years. He added that, to his recollection, it was the first time anything like this had happened.

Maybe after 15 years of doing the same thing over and over, the robot just snapped?

*snickering*
posted by LizBoBiz at 5:29 AM on July 26


Lucky it was only chess. Could be much worse
posted by DreamerFi at 6:40 AM on July 26


The US is the exact same, we are just more subtle about it.

I think another way of saying that is all of us have the same stupid impulse to blame victims (particularly those who aren't the white men we're most often taught to care about and empathize with). But some people understand how wrong that is, and we've made some changes in our laws and culture to try to address that.

So maybe Americans (and others) aren't as blatant about it because sometimes we have rules and laws to protect victims and hold perpetrators accountable. And sometimes we have stories that teach us to empathize with victims. And in my lifetime (heck my 20-year-old kids have noticed it in their lifetime) there's been a lot more stories in mass media trying to broaden that circle of empathy beyond white men.

So when people are still bad but less blatant about it, that's a good sign. That means it's possible to change culture for the better and we should keep trying to do it.
posted by straight at 9:00 AM on July 26 [2 favorites]


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