Artificial Intelligence and Legal Consequences

Article by Alexandra Sabalier and Jenifer Thomas
May 02, 2018

      The first mention of the word robot was in a stage play by playwright and novelist Karel Čapek from Czechoslovakia in 1921. This word was introduced into the English dictionary via the German language, though the word is derived from the Czech word robota meaning ‘forced labour’ or ‘slavery’. The modern meaning of the word ‘robot’ has its origins in a 1920 play by the remarkable Czech writer Karel Čapek. The play, titled R. U. R. (Rossum’s Universal Robots), starts in a factory which manufactures artificial people known as ‘universal robots’. Interestingly, robots did not come to be until 1960-70, by researchers in the Artificial Intelligence Center at the Stanford Research Institute.

The basic definition of “robot” is an engineered machine that senses, thinks, and acts: “Thus a robot must have sensors, processing ability that emulates some aspect of cognition, and actuators. Sensors are needed to obtain information from the environment. Reactive behaviors do not require any deep cognitive ability, but on-board intelligence is necessary if the robot is to perform significant tasks autonomously, and actuation is needed to enable the robot to exert forces upon the environment.”

Nowadays, it is anticipated that robots will not only ease day to day chores in the future but in many instances, they will take over jobs that had traditionally been performed by humans. In actuality, robots are moving quickly from the science fiction scenarios to reality, with an ability to do things we could only previously imagine, such as: moving and reproducing; predicting and choosing; learning; understanding and interpreting; analyzing; deciding; and perceiving. It stands to reason that the future abilities of AI robots along with the technological applications are uncertain. Bill Gates commented that “the emergence of the robotics industry ... is developing much the same way that the computer business did 30 years ago”.

As Artificial Intelligence (AI) advances, it is expected that robots will play a more complex and wider range of roles in society: For instance, police robots equipped with biometrics capabilities and sensors could detect weapons, drugs, and faces from the distance. Eventually, with learning advanced capacity, military robots could make attack decisions on their own eventually eliminating the human triggerman required today.

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