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How Can We Trust a Robot?


How Can We Trust a Robot? illustration

Credit: Andrij Borys Associates / Shutterstock

Advances in artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics have raised concerns about the impact on our society of intelligent robots, unconstrained by morality or ethics.7,9

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Science fiction and fantasy writers over the ages have portrayed how decisionmaking by intelligent robots and other AIs could go wrong. In the movie, Terminator 2, SkyNet is an AI that runs the nuclear arsenal "with a perfect operational record," but when its emerging self-awareness scares its human operators into trying to pull the plug, it defends itself by triggering a nuclear war to eliminate its enemies (along with billions of other humans). In the movie, Robot & Frank, in order to promote Frank's activity and health, an eldercare robot helps Frank resume his career as a jewel thief. In both of these cases, the robot or AI is doing exactly what it has been instructed to do, but in unexpected ways, and without the moral, ethical, or common-sense constraints to avoid catastrophic consequences.10


 

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