“Robots should be slaves”

That is the title of this well-reasoned essay by Joanna J. Bryson, a computer science professor at the University of Bath. (Also, check out her TEDxCERN Talk below on the question, “Is A.I. changing us?”) Here is an extended excerpt from Dr Bryson’s excellent essay:

There is in fact no question about whether we own robots. We design, manufacture, own, and operate robots. They are entirely our responsibility. We determine their goals and behaviour, either directly or indirectly through specifying their intelligence, or even more indirectly by specifying how they acquire their own intelligence. But at the end of every indirection lies the fact that there would be no robots on this planet if it weren’t for deliberate human decisions to create them.

The principal question is whether robots should be considered strictly as servants—as objects subordinate to our own goals that are built with the intention of improving our lives. Others in this volume argue that artificial companions should play roles more often reserved for a friend or peer. My argument is this: given the inevitability of our ownership of robots, neglecting that they are essentially in our service would be unhealthy and inefficient. More importantly, it invites inappropriate decisions such as misassignations of responsibility or misappropriations of resources.

About F. E. Guerra-Pujol

When I’m not blogging, I am a business law professor at the University of Central Florida.
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2 Responses to “Robots should be slaves”

  1. Abogada Guerra says:

    Slaves? No slaves are/were actual humans who are/were forcibly taken from their environment, NOT MADE! Ms. Bryson’s title is disrespectful, inaccurate, and misleading to say the least. Full stop.

    • Yes, it’s a very provocative title, but I believe her point is that robots and A.I. entities should not become autonomous due to the possible dangers they might pose and thus should not be accorded any legal rights.

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