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4/11/2015
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Robot Villains: What They Teach Us

This year's National Robotics Week, April 4-12, occurred as warnings against "killer robots" reached a fever pitch. Robots, however, are but tools -- tools that do their masters' bidding, as they have been programmed to do. Here are three examples of the lessons we can learn from fictional robot villains to prevent the apocalyptic future that Neo-Luddites fear.
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City of Revenge

The City is a short story in Ray Bradbury's 1951 anthology The Illustrated Man. The story tells of astronauts from Earth who have landed on the outskirts of an empty city on a faraway planet. The city, however, is no ordinary city. It is a massive seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, feeling, speaking robot. After Earthlings had destroyed an entire alien race -- the Taollans -- with war and disease more than 20,000 years prior, those Taollans who were left built the city to lie in wait for the return of Earthlings. When they do return, the city slays them, dissects them, replaces their organs with robot parts, and sends them back to whence they came -- to drop a biological weapon on their home planet.

The name of the city is that of its purpose: Revenge.

(Image: Helga Weber via Flickr).

City of Revenge

The City is a short story in Ray Bradbury's 1951 anthology The Illustrated Man. The story tells of astronauts from Earth who have landed on the outskirts of an empty city on a faraway planet. The city, however, is no ordinary city. It is a massive seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, feeling, speaking robot. After Earthlings had destroyed an entire alien race -- the Taollans -- with war and disease more than 20,000 years prior, those Taollans who were left built the city to lie in wait for the return of Earthlings. When they do return, the city slays them, dissects them, replaces their organs with robot parts, and sends them back to whence they came -- to drop a biological weapon on their home planet.

The name of the city is that of its purpose: Revenge.

(Image: Helga Weber via Flickr).

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hpschropp
50%
50%
hpschropp,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/29/2015 | 4:13:19 PM
Robot Villians
Robots don't kill People....  People Kill People.

 
Michelle
50%
50%
Michelle,
User Rank: Ninja
4/25/2015 | 2:18:14 PM
Re: Fictional robots are always scary
There's definately enough data on killer robots and what makes them truly evil. I tend to think the human element in design is the cause but I could be wrong. It is fiction after all...
kstaron
50%
50%
kstaron,
User Rank: Ninja
4/24/2015 | 10:49:35 AM
Undocumented program features
Whenever you program anything you need to look out for unintended consequences. My husband has a piece of embroidery over his desk that reads; "Computer Programmers don't make mistakes, only undocumented program features." Make sure you know what your features are so you don't create a robot villain.
PedroGonzales
50%
50%
PedroGonzales,
User Rank: Ninja
4/18/2015 | 10:21:46 PM
Re: Fictional robots are always scary
I think it will be very difficult to have data on robots since, they continue to be placed in very specific industries.  We may have to wait a long time before we can do a serious analysis.  Even japan, a country who loves robots, isn't yet to create robots to take care of their elderly.  I do not mind reading a great story about evil robots, thank you for the suggestions to my summer reading list, I will greatly enjoy reading all these stories.
Li Tan
50%
50%
Li Tan,
User Rank: Ninja
4/18/2015 | 3:29:51 PM
Re: Fictional robots are always scary
I agree - we need to have more solid data to understand better why robots are considered evil and how we can better utilize them.
Michelle
50%
50%
Michelle,
User Rank: Ninja
4/18/2015 | 2:28:31 PM
Fictional robots are always scary
Fictional robots are always going bad. There must be something fundamentally evil about the plot lines that cause this. I don't think AI is always the cause. I'm eager to read the Mind the Gap report to learn why autonomous killer robots must be banned.
Gigi3
100%
0%
Gigi3,
User Rank: Ninja
4/13/2015 | 5:53:23 AM
Automated Weapons
"This is frightening to some. Advocates released a report this past week urging the United Nations to move towards a wholesale international ban "on the development, production and use of fully autonomous weapons.""

Joe, whether it's a necessity? Weapons at warfront are for destroying and spoiling the situation. Automated weapons can be call back, where impact can be controlled.
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