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When good robots go bad… November 5, 2009

Posted by emiliekopp in robot fun.
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Mainstream television and film have given robots a bad rep. Many people carry the stigma that robots could turn against us, when really, they are performing tasks that are too dull, dirty and/or dangerous for humans to do on their own.

An interesting study was cited today on msnbc.com, where scientists at University of Washington warn consumers about the vulnerabilities our household robots may suffer and what kind of situations that might pose to their masters (think iRobot). I was contacted by the article’s author, Diane Mapes, to discuss the likelyhood of our household robots revolting against us. I tend to think that it’s highly doubtful you’d find yourself being vacuumed to death by your Roomba.

But what our conversation did entertain was the idea that one could take control and/or reprogram your vacuuming robot with a malicious content. It was quite an interesting and enjoyable conversation; there’s a spectrum of motives and possibilities.  Take a closer look here.

So what do you think? Any Roomba or Spykee owners feeling a little exposed? Is it really something we should be concerned about? Or shall we continue opening up our families to robotic additions?



3 Laws of Robotics: Part 1 of Series August 20, 2009

Posted by emiliekopp in robot fun.
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Thanks to a tweet from @RobotUprising, I figured this would be a timely post.

Recently, the NI Robotics Team had a social gathering (more like geek-fest) at one of our LabVIEW developer’s house (sweet pad, @brianhpowell). One of our fun robot-related activities was to try to recall Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics, as close to word-for-word as possible. One guy was able to write down all 3, verbatim, plus the Zeroth Law. Impressive? Or just uber-dweeby? Not sure.

However, for most of us, it was a shot in the dark. I collected the responses and saw some pretty funny stuff. I thought I’d share one; I’ll share some more in future posts.

Here’s one of my favorite submissions, from Elben Shira, an R&D intern on the LabVIEW Core team:

  1. Thou shall not develop artificial life that can develop organic life, for this might result in an infinite, recursive loop.
  2. Robots may not interfere in human disputes, for attempting to change human nature is a futile task.
  3. (and this is my favorite): Thou must keep Will Smith alive forever, even if it breaks Law 1 and/or Law 2; for with Will Smith alive, no robotic apocolypse will sustain.

Thanks for keeping the world safe, Hitch.