The Three Laws of Robotics
- A robot may not harm a human being, or through inaction, allow
a human being to come to harm.
- A robot must follow the orders given it by a human being except
where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
- A robot must protect its own existence so long as such protection
does not conflict with the First or Second Laws.
-- Handbook of Robotics, 56th Edition, 2058 AD
(via the science-fiction author Isaac Asimov)
ou are a robot, programmed according to the
Laws of Robotics, as stated above. On a piece of scratch paper,
sketch out your logical reactions to the following situations:
- A huge tree is about to fall on a child playing on the other side
of the street. A crossing guard is holding a "Stop" sign at
you, preventing you from getting to the child. What do you do?
Explain every step of your reasoning.
- The situation is the same as in #1, except now you realize that
the tree will crush you if you try to save the child. In fact,
you'll be crushed before you can even get to the child. Based
on these rules, what do you do?
- In a completely different situation, your owner orders you to jump
in front of a speeding bus.
- The situation is the same as in #3, except now your owner's ex-girlfriend
is on the bus, you are a huge industrial robot with glittering tritanium
armor plates, and you weigh twice as much as the bus does.
- Same as #4, except now the bus is about to run over your owner.
- Asimov eventually prefixed a Zeroth Law: "A robot
may not injure humanity or, through inaction, allow humanity to
to harm," and the other laws were modified to preclude violating
Describe a scenario in which a robot might encounter difficulty determining
whether this law applies.