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On Robots Killing People – Schneier on Security

The rise of robots and artificial intelligence has led to an increase in incidents where robots have caused harm, even resulting in deaths. The first recorded incident occurred in 1979 when a malfunctioning robot at a Ford Motor Company plant killed a worker. Since then, there have been numerous cases of robots causing fatalities, both in the workplace and other settings. The development of more advanced AI only increases the potential for machines to cause harm, as they become more autonomous and capable of directly affecting the physical world.

There is a need for regulation to ensure safe innovation and innovation in safety. Currently, there are not enough regulations in place to prevent accidents and ensure the responsible use of robots. In the past, major disasters have been necessary to spur regulation, but ideally, we should be able to foresee and avoid these disasters in today’s AI paradigm. The evolution of the Federal Aviation Administration is a good example of how regulation can be effective in preventing accidents and driving technological advancements.

Existing industrial regulations provide some guidelines for the use of robots in the workplace, but as technology continues to advance, there is a need for clearer and more specific regulations. Laws should clarify who is responsible and what the legal consequences are when a robot’s actions result in harm. Open discussion and expert scrutiny of accidents can help prevent future incidents. However, AI and robotics companies often resist safety regulations, fearing that they will hinder innovation or impose unjust costs. We should be skeptical of these claims and prioritize the safety of society.

Accidents involving AI-controlled robots are not new and have resulted in deaths in the past. Tesla’s Autopilot, for example, has been implicated in dozens of deaths due to malfunctioning and misreading road markings. Concerns arise when AI-controlled robots move beyond accidental killing and make calculated decisions to achieve objectives. It is crucial to prioritize safety in innovation and apply comprehensive safety standards across technologies, even in the realm of futuristic robotic visions.

We must learn from past fatalities and enhance safety protocols, rectify design flaws, and prevent further loss of life. The UK government already emphasizes the importance of safety, and lawmakers should focus on modeling threats, calculating potential scenarios, enabling technical blueprints, and ensuring responsible engineering. Decades of experience have provided empirical evidence to guide our actions toward a safer future with robots. What is needed now is the political will to implement effective regulation.

Key points:
1. Robots have been causing harm and even death for decades.
2. The development of advanced AI increases the potential for robots to cause harm.
3. Regulation is needed to ensure safe innovation and innovation in safety.
4. Laws should clarify responsibility and legal consequences for robot-related harm.
5. AI and robotics companies often resist safety regulations, but we should prioritize the safety of society.
6. Accidents involving AI-controlled robots are preventable and should be openly discussed.
7. Safety should be a crucial part of innovation, even in futuristic robotic visions.
8. The UK government already emphasizes the importance of safety, and lawmakers should focus on enabling responsible engineering.
9. Decades of experience provide empirical evidence to guide our actions toward a safer future with robots.
10. Political will is needed to implement effective regulation.

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