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Are Robots Responsible for Mistakes?

Category: Science & Technology
Posted: 10:24AM

Robots are becoming more common in the world. Some day we may see them in our homes, cooking and cleaning, but right now we find them on the battlefield going into dangerous situations instead of a living human. What happens if an error or technology glitch occurs, causing the robot to hurt somebody? Can the machine be held responsible for the results of malfunctions? Apparently a robot can be.

Researchers at the University of Washington used a robot to track people as they try to complete a scavenger hunt. If the person finds at least seven items on the list, and points them out to the robot, they get $20. However, the robot would tell them they only found five items, and thus do not win the award. Even though it is a machine, the subjects would actually argue with the robot about how many items they found.

The researchers explain that as robots become more human-like, with the ability to hear and respond to a real person, people start assigning human qualities to them. Some 65% of the subjects blamed the robot for the miscount, to some degree. If something was to go wrong and robots were to hurt humans, how much blame can be put onto the machine? That is what the researchers urge others to consider as robot warriors are used more and more in real combat.

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