Asimov's First Law Of Robotics Real-Life Beta

Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry is working on a new set of safety guidelines for next-generation robots. This set of rules would constitute a "beta" version of the first of Asimov's science-fictional Laws of Robotics.

The first law of robotics, as set forth in 1940 by writer Isaac Asimov, states:

A robot may not injure a human being, or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.

The reason that this effort is significant is that, unlike regulations used for industrial robots, this set of guidelines is specifically designed to keep ordinary people safe as robots increasingly mingle with them in their daily affairs.

Japan's ministry guidelines will require manufacturers to install a sufficient number of sensors to keep robots from running into people. Lighter or softer materials will be preferred, to further prevent injury.

Emergency shut-off buttons will also be required. Science fiction heroes in stories and movies have spent an inordinate amount of time trying to find the shut-off button for various out-of-control machines, so I hope that these buttons will be placed for easy access by concerned humans.

People in Japan are particularly concerned about this problem, due to the accelerating efforts to create robots that will address the coming labor shortage in Japan's elder care industry.

Follow these links to read about some of the proposed healthcare and home use robots:

Read about the Safety guidelines to be set for next-generation robots.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 5/25/2006)

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