The Future is now!

Today, many of the devices and tools that we use were first dreamt of by fiction writers many years ago. Robots for example, by Isac Asimov and others. The tablets and communicators from Startrek sparked concepts that developers turned into the iPads and smartphones that we have today.

Back in the 18th century, the world was thrust into the Industrial Revolution. Today we stand on the brink of the Artificial Intelligence Revolution. A day does not go by without some new development in AI being announced. Should we be concerned that AI will adversely affect us, Humans?

In 1942 Isac Asimov wrote a short story, “Runaround” where he introduced three rules to protect mankind from rogue Robots. Later in “I Robot” and other stories he implemented those laws, which he
quoted as being from the “Handbook of Robotics, 56th Edition, 2058 A.D.”. They are:

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 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 Laws

If today they were applied to AI would they be enough?

Science Today has reported that “A group of the world’s most eminent artificial intelligence experts have worked together to try and make sure that doesn’t happen.
They’ve put together a set of 23 principles to guide future research into AI, which has since been endorsed by hundreds of more professionals, including Stephen Hawking and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk.
Called the Asilomar AI Principles (after the beach in California, where they were thought up), the guidelines cover research issues, ethics and values, and longer-term issues – everything from how scientists should work with governments to how lethal weapons should be handled.”

There are 23 guidelines in the report that can be found at

To me, this seems like a positive start, and I believe that we do need to be preemptive in controlling the negative aspects of AI. However, Asimov’s three basic rules carry weight, even though they are from fiction. I for one would like to see them used as the keystone to how AI is developed and interfaced with us Humans.

Steve Ellis, 4th February 2017


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