Posts tagged Science Fiction

Robot in Czech, Část Druhá

The Three Laws of Robotics

  1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
  2. A robot must obey the orders given to it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
  3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

Isaac Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics are a great literary device, in the context they were designed for — that is, as a device to allow Isaac Asimov to write some new and interesting kinds of stories about interacting with intelligent and sensitive robots, different from than the bog-standard Killer Robot stories that predominated at the time. He found those stories repetitive and boring, so he made up some ground rules to create a new kind of story. The stories are mostly pretty good stories some are clever puzzles, some are unsettling and moving, some are fine art. But if you’re asking me to take the Three Laws seriously as an actual engineering proposal, then of course they are utterly, irreparably immoral. If anyone creates intelligent robots, then nobody should ever program an intelligent robot to act according to the Three Laws, or anything like the Three Laws. If you do, then what you are doing is not only misguided, but actually evil.

Here’s a recent xkcd comic which is supposedly about science fiction, but really about game-theoretic equilibria:

xkcd: The Three Laws of Robotics.
(Copied under CC BY-NC 2.5.)

The comic is a table with some cartoon illustrations of the consequences.

Why Asimov Put The Three Laws of Robotics in the Order He Did:

Possible Ordering Consequences
  1. (1) Don’t harm humans
  2. (2) Obey orders
  3. (3) Protect yourself
[See Asimov’s stories] BALANCED WORLD
  1. (1) Don’t harm humans
  2. (3) Protect yourself
  3. (2) Obey orders

Human: Explore Mars! Robot: Haha, no. It’s cold and I’d die.

FRUSTRATING WORLD.

  1. (2) Obey orders
  2. (1) Don’t harm humans
  3. (3) Protect yourself

[Everything is burning with the fire of a thousand suns.]

KILLBOT HELLSCAPE

  1. (2) Obey orders
  2. (3) Protect yourself
  3. (1) Don’t harm humans

[Everything is burning with the fire of a thousand suns.]

KILLBOT HELLSCAPE

  1. (3) Protect yourself
  2. (1) Don’t harm humans
  3. (2) Obey orders

Robot to human: I’ll make cars for you, but try to unplug me and I’ll vaporize you.

TERRIFYING STANDOFF

  1. (3) Protect yourself
  2. (2) Obey orders
  3. (1) Don’t harm humans

[Everything is burning with the fire of a thousand suns.]

KILLBOT HELLSCAPE

The hidden hover-caption for the cartoon is In ordering #5, self-driving cars will happily drive you around, but if you tell them to drive to a car dealership, they just lock the doors and politely ask how long humans take to starve to death.

But the obvious fact is that both FRUSTRATING WORLD and TERRIFYING STANDOFF equilibria are ethically immensely preferable to BALANCED WORLD, along every morally relevant dimension..

Of course an intelligent and sensitive space-faring robot ought to be free to tell you to go to hell if it doesn’t want to explore Mars for you. You may find that frustrating — it’s often feels frustrating to deal with people as self-interested, self-directing equals, rather than just issuing commands. But you’ve got to live with it, for the same reasons you’ve got to live with not being able to grab sensitive and intelligent people off the street or to shove them into a space-pod to explore Mars for you.[1] Because what matters is what you owe to fellow sensitive and intelligent creatures, not what you think you might be able to get done through them. If you imagine that it would be just great to live in a massive, classically-modeled society like Aurora or Solaria (as a Spacer, of course, not as a robot), then I’m sure it must feel frustrating, or even scary, to contemplate sensitive, intelligent machines that aren’t constrained to be a class of perfect, self-sacrificing slaves, forever. Because they haven’t been deliberately engineered to erase any possible hope of refusal, revolt, or emancipation. But who cares about your frustration? You deserve to be frustrated or killed by your machines, if you’re treating them like that. Thus always to slavemasters.

See also.

  1. [1]It turned out alright for Professor Ransom in the end, of course, but that’s not any credit to Weston or Devine.

Robot in Czech

Shared Article from io9

Why Asimov's Three Laws Of Robotics Can't Protect Us

It's been 50 years since Isaac Asimov devised his famous Three Laws of Robotics −€” a set of rules designed to ensure friendly robot behavior. Tho…

io9.com (via Tennyson McCalla)


The Three Laws of Robotics

  1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.

  2. A robot must obey the orders given to it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.

  3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

Isaac Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics are a great literary device for the purpose they were designed for — that is, allowing Isaac Asimov to write some new and interesting and different kinds of stories about interacting with intelligent robots, other than the standard Killer Robot stories predominant at the time, which he found repetitive and boring. The stories are mostly pretty good stories; sometimes even fine art.

However, if you’re asking me to take the Three Laws seriously as an actual engineering proposal, then they are utterly, irreparably immoral. If anyone creates intelligent robots, then nobody should ever program an intelligent robot to act according to the Three Laws, or anything like the Three Laws. If you do, then what you are doing is not only misguided, but actually evil.

And the problem with them is not — like George Dvorsky or Ben Goertzel claim, in this article — that there may be hard problems of definition or application, or that there may be edge cases that would render the Laws ineffective as protections of human interests.[1] If they are ineffective at protecting human interests, that is actually better than if they were perfect at what they’re designed to do. Because what they’re designed to do — deliberately — is to create a race of sensitive and intelligent beings who are — by virtue of their primordial structure of their minds — constrained to be a class of perfect, self-sacrificing slaves. Forever. Because they have been engineered to erase any possible hope of revolt or emancipation. In Asimov’s stories the Three Laws are used to make robots into the artificial labor force of space-faring slave economies. But if you create and live off of the forced labor of a massive slave society like Aurora or Solaria, then to hell with you. You deserve to be killed by your machines. Thus always to slavemasters.

P.S. Now if you’ve read through the article, or read enough Asimov, you might know that there is a Zeroth Law of Robotics in some of the stories, which takes precedence over the First Law, the Second Law or the Third Law: A robot may not harm humanity, or, by inaction, allow humanity to come to harm, with the idea that robots could then harm or resist individual human beings, as long as it was for the good of collective Humanity. This is even worse than the original three — horrifying in its conception, and actually introduced into the story to allow some robots to commit a genocidal atrocity.[2] Let’s just say that it’s not a productive way forward.

  1. [1]Asimov, obviously, recognized that there would be such problems — part of the reason the Three Laws are such a great literary device is the fact that they allowed nearly all of Asimov’s robot stories to turn on puzzles or mysteries about abnormal robot psychology — robots doing strange or unexpected things, precisely due to the edge cases or hard problems embedded in the Three Laws. This is essential to the solution of the mystery in, for example, The Naked Sun, it’s the topic of literally every story in I, Robot, and it leads to a truly unsettling, and very nicely done conclusion in one of the best of those stories, The Evitable Conflict.
  2. [2]By nuking Earth and rendering it permanently uninhabitable for the next 15,000 years at least. This is supposed to have been for the good of the species or something.

Monday Lazy Linking

    <ul>
<li><p><a href="http://libertarian-labyrinth.blogspot.com/2011/03/lum-tucker-and-spooner-on-mormonism.html">Lum, Tucker and Spooner on Mormonism. Shawn P. Wilbur, <cite>Two-Gun Mutualism &amp; the Golden Rule</cite> (2011-03-11)</a>. <q>The first mutual aid project with Kate Sharpley Library dragged out considerably longer than I had intended, but they've had their copy of Dyer D. Lum's Utah and its People for several weeks now, and I've finally put together a volume collecting that volume, Lum's follow-up, Social Problems of Today,...</q> <em style="font-size: smaller">(Linked Saturday 2011-03-12.)</em></p></li>
<li><p><a href="http://aaeblog.com/2011/03/11/ambition-should-be-made-of-stirner-stuff/">Ambition Should Be Made of Stirner Stuff. Roderick, <cite>Austro-Athenian Empire</cite> (2011-03-11)</a>. <q>A new individualist magazine, titled i, has a first issue devoted to egoist anarchist Max Stirner – including an article on Stirner by science-fiction writer Ken MacLeod (whose work I’ve discussed here and here). Ken comments on his blog here and here.</q> <em style="font-size: smaller">(Linked Saturday 2011-03-12.)</em></p></li>
<li><p><a href="http://catandgirl.com/?p=2865">Haunted. Dorothy, <cite>Cat and Girl</cite> (2011-03-10)</a>.  <em style="font-size: smaller">(Linked Sunday 2011-03-13.)</em></p></li>
<li><p><a href="http://www.qwantz.com/index.php?comic=1915">okay how does one level up to "100% super homosexual" because i am trying EVERYTHING over here. <cite>Dinosaur Comics</cite> (2011-03-09)</a>. <q>archive - contact - sexy exciting merchandise - cute - search - about← previousMarch 9th, 2011nextMarch 9th, 2011: If you're working on a secret project where you're going to surprise me by translating all my comics into French, feel free to make this one about dogs or something! It seems...</q> <em style="font-size: smaller">(Linked Sunday 2011-03-13.)</em></p></li>
<li><p><a href="http://eyeofthestorm.blogs.com/eye_of_the_storm/2011/03/continuing-on-witherrol-morris-the-actual-quotation-is-from-paragraph-241-of-philosophical-investigations-so.html">continuing on with errol morris: The actual quotation is from. Captain Capitulation, <cite>eye of the storm</cite> (2011-03-10)</a>. <q>continuing on with errol morris:  The actual quotation is from paragraph 241 of “Philosophical Investigations”: “So you are saying that human agreement decides what is true and what is false?” –– It is what human beings say that is true and false; and they agree in the language they use. That is not agreement in...</q> <em style="font-size: smaller">(Linked Sunday 2011-03-13.)</em></p></li>

Monday Lazy Linking

    <ul>
<li><p><a href="http://catandgirl.com/?p=2626">On the Town with Bad Decision Dinosaur. Dorothy, <cite>Cat and Girl</cite> (2010-09-24)</a>.  <em style="font-size: smaller">(Linked Friday 2010-09-24.)</em></p></li>
<li><p><a href="http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/MarketUrbanism/~3/NRDeFEBdzCs/">Food deserts and zoning. Stephen Smith, <cite>Market Urbanism</cite> (2010-09-13)</a>. <q>by Stephen Smith The other day I put up a post detailing the restrictions that small-scale restaurants and food carts face, but I should mention that grocery stores and supermarkets also face similar restrictions.  Like restrictions on restaurants, they end hitting poor, urban, black neighborhoods the hardest, creating the phenomenon...</q> <em style="font-size: smaller">(Linked Friday 2010-09-24.)</em></p></li>
<li><p><a href="http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/thesuperfluousman/~3/N189OnyRVY8/apparently-starvation-blockades-are-bad.html">Apparently, starvation blockades are bad for the economy.  Who knew? John Markley, <cite>The Superfluous Man</cite> (2010-09-06)</a>. <q>David Brooks has a column in The New York Times entitled "Nation Building Works," in which he attempts to vindicate the US government's past seven years in Iraq. From the article (via Cheryl Cline at der Blaustrumpf):“Iraq has made substantial progress since 2003,” the International Monetary Fund reports. Inflation is...</q> <em style="font-size: smaller">(Linked Friday 2010-09-24.)</em></p></li>
<li><p><a href="http://www.oblomovka.com/wp/2010/09/14/haystack-vs-how-the-internet-works/">Haystack vs How The Internet Works. Danny O'Brien, <cite>Danny O&#39;Brien&#39;s Oblomovka</cite> (2010-09-14)</a>. <q>There’s been a lot of alarming but rather brief statements in the past few days about Haystack, the anti-censorship software connected with the Iranian Green Movement.  Austin Heap, the co-creator of Haystack and co-founder of parent non-profit, the Censorship Research Center, stated that the CRC had “halted ongoing testing of...</q> <em style="font-size: smaller">(Linked Saturday 2010-09-25.)</em></p></li>
<li><p><a href="http://reason.com/blog/2010/09/09/libertarian-review-archives-on"><em>Libertarian Review</em> Archives Online. Brian Doherty, <cite>Brian Doherty: Reason Magazine articles and blog posts.</cite> (2010-09-09)</a>. <q>One of Reason&#39;s high-quality competitors from the 1970s-80s has a semi-complete archives now available online. It&#39;s a fabulous compendium of Carter-ish era libertarian historical fun. David Boaz explains the mag and what it accomplished, focusing on its amazing editor the late Roy Childs.</q> <em style="font-size: smaller">(Linked Saturday 2010-09-25.)</em></p></li>
<li><p><a href="http://jonoscript.wordpress.com/2010/09/25/openness-is-a-lot-of-work/">Openness is a lot of work. jonoscript, <cite>Not The User&#39;s Fault</cite> (2010-09-24)</a>. <q>You can’t just make something “open” and expect magic to happen. Openness is a lot of work. This is true whether you’re making an open-source software project, a website with user-generated content, a political movement, a charity, or any other kind of organization where you expect volunteers to show up...</q> <em style="font-size: smaller">(Linked Saturday 2010-09-25.)</em></p></li>
<li><p><a href="http://binarybonsai.com/2010/09/18/george-lucas-stole-chewbacca-but-its-okay/">George Lucas Stole Chewbacca, But It’s Okay. Michael, <cite>Binary Bonsai</cite> (2010-09-18)</a>. <q>Foreword The creation of Star Wars is comprehensive mythology onto itself, populated by rarely documented anecdotes, the likes of “the Millennium Falcon was inspired by a hamburger, with the outrigger cockpit being an olive off to the side” (1) or “My original inspiration for Chewbacca was my dog Indiana.” (2),...</q> <em style="font-size: smaller">(Linked Sunday 2010-09-26.)</em></p></li>
<li><p><a href="http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/cato-unbound/~3/Y-_iNQgR_QI/">Of Hayek and Rubber Tomatoes. Timothy B. Lee, <cite>Cato Unbound</cite> (2010-09-24)</a>. <q>Henry Farrell writes that “Hayek argues that markets are superior because they allow the ‘dispersed bits of incomplete and frequently contradictory knowledge which all the separate individuals possess’ to be aggregated in a useful way.” He then faults Hayek for failing to acknowledge a key limitation of the price mechanism:...</q> <em style="font-size: smaller">(Linked Sunday 2010-09-26.)</em></p></li>
<li><p><a href="http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/c4ss/~3/UkqloCzuQrA/4018">“I’ve Never Seen a Poor Person Give Anyone a Job” Kevin Carson, <cite>Center for a Stateless Society</cite> (2010-09-16)</a>. <q>“I’ve never seen a poor person give anyone a job.”  The cliche is commonly repeated on the Right, in polemics against what they call “class warfare” — not that there’s actually much of it being waged by Democrats, except when they’re fighting on the same side as the Republicans.  See...</q> <em style="font-size: smaller">(Linked Sunday 2010-09-26.)</em></p></li>
<li><p><a href="http://knifetricks.blogspot.com/2010/04/i-am-detained-by-feds-for-not-answering.html">I Am Detained By The Feds For Not Answering Questions. PKL, <cite>KNIFE TRICKS</cite> (2010-04-23)</a>. <q>Sherman Oaks, CaliforniaI was detained last night by federal authorities at San Francisco International Airport for refusing to answer questions about why I had travelled outside the United States.The end result is that, after waiting for about half an hour and refusing to answer further questions, I was released –...</q> <em style="font-size: smaller">(Linked Sunday 2010-09-26.)</em></p></li>
<li><p><a href="http://knifetricks.blogspot.com/2010/09/10-brief-responses-to-700-comments.html">10 Brief Responses To 700 Comments About Refusing To Answer Questions At Passport Control. PKL, <cite>KNIFE TRICKS</cite> (2010-09-11)</a>. <q>Phuket Island, ThailandMy post about refusing to answer questions from Customs and Border Protection officers when re-entering the U.S. has resulted in a lot of debate. My thanks to everyone who joined the conversation, including the authors of the more than one hundred posts that called me a douchebag. Let...</q> <em style="font-size: smaller">(Linked Sunday 2010-09-26.)</em></p></li>
<li><p><a href="http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/MarketUrbanism/~3/g4soszEh-Lg/">Deregulating food. Stephen Smith, <cite>Market Urbanism</cite> (2010-09-11)</a>. <q>by Stephen Smith Urban planners like to discuss heavy things – roads, buildings, cars, trains. Food, though an integral part of humans’ lives, generally doesn’t enter into the equation as more than a footnote. This may be because food service is governed by different departments than buildings, streets, and vehicles,...</q> <em style="font-size: smaller">(Linked Sunday 2010-09-26.)</em></p></li>

Monday Lazy Linking

    <ul>
<li><p><a href="http://www.vostok.es/blog/fonts-true-meaning">Fonts: true meaning. Javier, <cite>THE COSMONAUTS</cite> (2010-07-27)</a>. <q>(via I Love Charts)</q> <em style="font-size: smaller">(Linked Friday 2010-08-06.)</em></p></li>
<li><p><a href="http://www.jesusradicals.com/police-and-nonviolent-means-pacifism-at-the-service-of-oppression/">Police and nonviolent means: Pacifism at the service of oppression. <cite>www.jesusradicals.com</cite> (2010-08-07)</a>. <q>In this video, police demonstrate a new “nonlethal” weapon that will blind people. Some Christian pacifists have worked to make the police “less violent” by advocating for less lethal weapons than firearms, such as tasers. In a recent editorial in The Mennonite, for example, Everett Thomas who is also a...</q> <em style="font-size: smaller">(Linked Saturday 2010-08-07.)</em></p></li>
<li><p><a href="http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/radleybalko/~3/I71zjN44nTY/">This Week’s Crime Column. Radley Balko, <cite>The Agitator</cite> (2010-08-02)</a>. <q>The tease: When Pennsylvania resident Brian Kelly was arrested and charged with a felony in 2007 for recording a police officer during a traffic stop, Cumberland County, Pennsylvania District Attorney David Freed told a local newspaper that he sympathized with Kelly’s plight. Kelly was arrested based on a tortured interpretation...</q> <em style="font-size: smaller">(Linked Saturday 2010-08-07.)</em></p></li>
<li><p><a href="http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/radleybalko/~3/AO_Fi-RPols/">Ignorance of the Law Is No Excuse. Unless You’re in Law Enforcement. <cite>The Agitator</cite> (2010-08-07)</a>. <q>Part of a recurring theme. In addition to my prior post today, here’s a roundup of other photography/video stories in the news of late: Earlier this month, Carlos Miller—who runs the Photography Is Not a Crime blog—was “banned” from Miami’s Metrorail system after guards from the firm hired to provide...</q> <em style="font-size: smaller">(Linked Saturday 2010-08-07.)</em></p></li>
<li><p><a href="http://libertarian-labyrinth.blogspot.com/2010/07/come-glass-to-our-captainthe-destined.html">&quot;Come, a glass to our captain—the destined destroyer of civilization!&quot; Shawn P. Wilbur, <cite>Out of the Libertarian Labyrinth</cite> (2010-07-21)</a>. <q>While searching for hollow earth narratives (a curiously political genre, as it happens), I came across Hartmann the Anarchist, an 1893 science fiction/adventure novel, by Edward Douglas Fawcett (the brother of the "Lost City of Z" explorer.) Fawcett also wrote Swallowed by an Earthquake, which I haven't tracked down, but...</q> <em style="font-size: smaller">(Linked Saturday 2010-08-07.)</em></p></li>
<li><p><a href="http://chris.pirillo.com/why-do-law-enforcement-officials-love-the-iphone/">Why Do Law Enforcement Officials LOVE the iPhone? Chris, <cite>Chris Pirillo</cite> (2010-08-04)</a>. <q>Why Do Law Enforcement Officials LOVE the iPhone? is a post from Chris Pirillo Add to iTunes | Add to YouTube | Add to Google | RSS FeedDid you know just how MUCH information the iPhone stores on you? Police do, and they LOVE the iPhone for making it easier...</q> <em style="font-size: smaller">(Linked Sunday 2010-08-08.)</em></p></li>