I, for one, welcome our new robot overlords
In the past I’ve joked about Apple leading us to a dystopian future. Not one as we know it from scifi as George Orwell’s 1984, but a very ergonomic and aesthetically pleasing dystopian future instead. It seems I’m not the only one to have that concern, after listening to Eben Moglen’s lecture on how software already violates Asimov’s first law of robotics, a lecture kindly pointed out to me by a good friend.
The science fiction author Isaac Asimov devised a set of rules in the 1940s that have formed the fundamental framework that bolster the behaviour of robots designed to have a degree of autonomy. While we are not surrounded by robots of this degree of complexity as portrayed in scifi, the most ubiquitous of bots in our lives do demonstrate a certain level of autonomy: the smart phone.
According to free software pioneer, futurist and activist Eben Moglen, the fundamental first law of robot ethics has yet to be coded into the smartphone. We carry them in our pockets. They see what we see. They hear what we hear. They always know where we are. But they do not work for us, and they are not programmed to obey the first law of robotics. Profit made them and profit runs them. The complexity of autonomy may not be that apparent to us, which makes it seem all the more innocuous. However, this is our first step towards integrating intelligent robotics into our everyday life, a step we should not take lightly.