back to article US gov in Bill Gates inspired robot probe

Robots, robots everywhere. That's the way of the future, according to US legislators. And American robotics-policy issues need a damn good probing. Congressmen Mike Doyle (Democrat, Pennsylvania) and the superbly-named Congressman Zach Wamp (Republican, Tennessee) announced the formation of a cross-party Congressional Robotics …


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  1. Ian Ferguson


    Is Robota seriously meant to be non-threatening?! Jesus H Christ on a stick, that thing is scary. It's like a hybrid between the Terminator and Children of the Corn. I wouldn't want to be in the same room as it on my own, let alone 'interact with it'.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Won't be long...

    ...before there are Robot Rights groups popping up from all over the place.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The 3 Laws

    The American military are already "breaking" the laws...

    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 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.

  4. Chris Collins

    Freak robot

    I don't know what kind of educating that freakish looking monstrocity will perform but I nearly cried when I saw it. A severed dolls head on an arm?

    "Let Robota fix you, child"

  5. Dillon Pyron

    They've been coming for how long?

    Fuck robots. Erh, that's exactly what Christensen is proposing.

    Seriously, this is yet another field that has been promised to us for 20 years. AI was the hot thing when I was doing my undergrad 30 years ago. And "one way trap door encryption" had just been introduced (I still have the copy of the Communications of the ACM where this was published). One of them has come to fruition, the other is "the next big thing". Specialized industrial robots have been around for quite some time because they are good at their particular task and so the demand is there. Meanwhile, household automation is a 1/2% market and at least one vendor appears to be ready to bail on the business.

  6. Brian

    3 laws of robotics

    There are a Asimov's 3 laws of robotics, correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't believe the US Military has signed up to follow them per se.

    There are another set of three laws that I say tongue in cheek, but hope I'm wrong about are...

    1. A robot will not harm authorized Government personnel but will terminate intruders with extreme prejudice.

    2. A robot will obey the orders of authorized personnel except where such orders conflict with the Third Law.

    3. A robot will guard its own existence with lethal antipersonnel weaponry, because a robot is bloody expensive.

    There is also a decent enough argument for the use of the 'zeroth law':

    "A robot may not harm a human being, unless he finds a way to prove that in the final analysis, the harm done would benefit humanity in general."

    Add pinch of salt and refer to;

  7. Brian

    robot domination or convergence...

    I was at a BCS Lecture not too long ago and the guy from iRobot had something very interesting to say.... that he didn't see robots revolting against humans, but that she saw convergence. We already have retina and ear tech to aid people, whats to stop us developing a wifi link to the web, so many things I'd love to google! Just think about it, the accumulated knowledge of 'civilisation' at ones beckon-call. Ok, sure, lots of adult stuff and not all of it is good, schools would teach search algorithms instead of classes, but there is still alot of useful info in there!

    In truth, I'd rather see a meld of human+machine then not. Thuswise the machine is endowed with emotion, morals and ethical beliefs. OK, so maybe my toaster doesn't need to morally object to making me some toast, but there are suitable fields where this could prove exceptionally useful.

    Yes this could lead to another 'Hitler' living on in my toaster, but it could also lead to say another 'Einstein' or 'Hawkings' living on and blessing us with their wisdom.


  8. lansalot

    mmmm... sexy robots

    ... will it be a case of " Intel Inside ", or " Inside Intel " ?

    Be nice if you could install Windows on your robo-saucepot of choice as well. That way, the user could finally get a chance to do to the operating system what it has been doing to us for years.*

    * well, someone was bound to say it.

  9. Rob Sked

    Re: mmmm... sexy robots

    It would just get upset if you tried to perfom an illegal operation.

    Or didn't have appropriate Admin rights to the Chastity Belt.

  10. D Morehouse

    oh c'mon

    You ALL know that somewhere in the back of your mind you've always wanted to build a hot chick robot. :)

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Non-threatening Robota

    If that thing is supposed to be non-threatening, then I don't want to see threatening.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The real 3 laws of robotics are...

    Serve the public trust

    Protect the innocent

    Uphold the law

  13. Dillon Pyron

    Commercial in the US

    What credit card company was that (you can see how well it stuck) that ran the ID theft ads where they had a theft victim talking, but the voice was that of the criminals?

    Black lady sitting under the dryer at the salon : "... and ten thousand dollars to finish my robot. My girl robot. This is going to be the best prom ever."

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I think of Basset Hounds...

    Innocence is life untested, but virtue is innocence tested and triumphant

  15. Morely Dotes

    @ D Morehouse

    You mean you haven't already? If I could jsut get mine to change the cat box, she'd be perfect. Well, apart from weighing 565 pounds (titanium was too expensive, I had to go with stainless steel).

  16. Iamfanboy

    Bender sez,


  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Doing a search on Google is not thinking. The problem with the convergence path is that humans today are no more sophisticated in their thinking that humans of 100,000 years ago. They spend 99% of their time in the pursuit of food, sex or shelter, with things like money, property or power just fluid forms of the former. The only thing more sophisticated about modern humans are their tools.

  18. Martin Owens

    Convergence v2

    Isn't it more likely that as robots and AI become more powerful they will exhibit the same "failings" as human beings. after all it's the nature of the human mind to be flexible, re-programmable on the fly and a very good analytical engine seeing patterns in everything that if we want machines to do the same we'll end up with machines that get tired (see neural net back-wash), get things wrong, assume information from patterns that aren't real and pick up cultural mis-information.

    In fact going back to Futurama: Bender: "I need a calculator.", Fry: "But you are a calculator", Bender: "I mean a Good calculator."

  19. Ronny Cook

    Re: convergence

    > They spend 99% of their time in the pursuit of food, sex or shelter,

    > with things like money, property or power just fluid forms of the former.

    > The only thing more sophisticated about modern humans are their tools.

    So what *doesn't* count as a "fluid form" of these?

    There are a lot of recreational activities that have nothing to do with food, sex or shelter. And those recreational activities typically use more than 1% of an average person's time. (Television. Drugs. Movies. Games and sports.)

    If you argue that they count as "mind food", I'll agree, but that only leads to the argument that anything enjoyable counts as "mind food"... and if you're doing stuff you don't enjoy ("work") in pursuit of activities you don't enjoy then you really, really need to have a close look at your life.

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