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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Rise of the Machines

UK-based researchers are upset over a report which alluded to "robot rights" and claimed that one day, robots might demand the same rights as human workers -- such as housing and "robot health care." Robotics engineers and other scientists called it "sensationalist," where some in government capacities say the reports were specifically commissioned to spark debate.

As autonomous, "decision-making" robots are increasingly used in ever more capacities, scientists warn about their militaristic and health care uses. Already, a robotic sentry with a machinegun patrols the border between North and South Korea, and autonomous robotic machines are used to monitor elderly patients' blood pressure and other vital signs. Autonomous robots are already in use in homes, with vacuum cleaners that decide on their own whether to go to a room to clean or back to a base to recharge.

As one scientist put forth: Right now, we would blame the creator of a robot if it killed someone, but as the use of this technology increases and the manufacture of such machines becomes more and more automated in its own right (mass production), where will the responsibility lay in the future? 

And how far away is that future?

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