Most filmgoers are by now familiar with the concept of robotic ethics. From robotic policemen going rogue to futuristic mega machines that hunt humanity down, until one of them ‘evolves’ enough to grow a conscience or something.
- A robot shall not harm a human, nor through inaction allow a human to come to harm
- A robot shall execute all commands by a human, unless it conflicts with Rule 1
- A robot shall protect its own integrity, unless this is in conflict with Rule 1 or 2
The first response to this is, of course, that we never had, and never will, have robots like the ones Asimov describes; or do we? Technology certainly followed a different path than what we thought would happen a hundred years ago. When your newest technology is steam, and you have imagination, and you understand enough science, of course you will dream of flying a locomotive to the moon, we just have to invent the right steam, no?
Isaac Asimov saw a future where a machine will take your dictation, write it out in perfect lettertype, then copy that letter perfectly a hundred times, identical every time. The unimaginative laugh at this foolishness now, the idiocy of thinking up electronic secretaries… but is that not what the photocopier does? What, you are too young to remember photocopiers? My point exactly, when motors and gears married electricity, we built copiers, and then we got rid of some gears, added some really long wires, and email was born, wow, technology.
I bet by the time you read this, email will be something used by old fogies who don’t understand social media… oh, I’m told that already happens, and social media is already becoming too cumbersome. The point is, where you are right now reading this, you are using Asimov’s Positronic Secretary, a machine that captures your input and distributes it as perfect replicas whenever and wherever demanded. The electric cook is an entire kitchen connected to the internet, the robot cars are now being built, and the robot proletariat is now receiving its Montessori education. Already the super-rich are openly discussing the replacement of all human workers with machines. Just because we did not paint a face on it does not mean the robots are not here, they just look different than the old movies promised. By the same token, people all over the world are competing to build the first robot that will pass as a human.
So we agree we got robots, then? Okay, so where are the three laws? Nowhere, that’s where. Just because a robot does not have hands to hold a gun, does not mean it cannot harm you. Here’s one; your favourite robot, the one in your hands right now, the one that acts like a spider on the Web? Yeah, that’s right, it is already harming you. How? By skimming information from your usage habits and sending them off to be sold to marketers. You are paying for the privilege of being spied upon. According to law 1, your favourite Facebook portal is a faulty robot.
When you put in a password on your desktop or laptop robot, is that not an order to the robot to secure your data? If that robot shares any of your data, for any reason whatsoever, it is breaking law 2, and it should be repaired or destroyed.
When I do everything I can to program my computer with all the brightest security software, and the CIA can, by design, gain access to my data through a back door built into the Intel Processors, and my computer does not prevent this or notify me, it is allowing itself to be harmed, to be corrupted and used as a tool to harm me by not employing the security protocols I demanded, and it breaks all three laws, and it should be destroyed.
What to do then? Easy. When I buy a machine, I want the manufacturer’s guarantee that my robot is fully functional and subject to the three laws. This would make my device unhackable and perfectly trustworthy. Should I as owner of that machine request any alterations in the way the robot interprets the laws, I am responsible for that robot’s actions. This is my free choice. However, I should not be able to break into the security protocol, as per definition of a secure system, and that is the manufacturer’s responsibility to ensure Law 3 is enacted, so the robot will not allow itself to be hacked. If anything that happens for that robot to cause any form of harm, due to disregard for the Three Laws, then the manufacturer shall bear full legal and ethical responsibility for the actions of that robot.
This might sound simplistic, but like most of our troubles in this world, the solution is not to create more problems; eliminate the existing problems first, and the first problem with robots and security is that they are being specifically designed to leave a “back door”. The manufacturers routinely deny that such back doors exist, and every time we catch them out, the response is always the same: Public Safety and National Security interests. March 2017, and WikiLeaks just released an avalanche of information about how the CIA was even opening the back door in peoples’ televisions, to collect browser data, viewing patters and to switch on the remote microphones on selected devices. Those back doors did not get hacked; they were opened, as per protocol arranged with the major manufacturers. Samsung is spying on you, and the CIA is just one boil on this festering corpse of privatised democracy, every nation that can switch on a computer can and will do this. After all, the CIA tapped four million phones in Germany, and gave the data to the German government. The Germans spied on Americans of course, and gave it to the FED. This way, neither government was guilty of spying on their own citizens. How clever is that, eh what?
The device in my hand is eminently hackable because Intel made sure there is a back door, and Microsoft sued anyone that tried manufacturing CPUs, into bankruptcy, citing intellectual ownership of all computing software. Even Intel, which ended up the lone survivor in that market-Window of personal computing processors, first had to bow to Messiah Gates, and together they built what I call the Dark Web. It turns out the Dark Web is actually a reference to child pornography, which breaks my stride not one bit, because as far as I can tell, our 'world Leaders", and every person willing to shake hands with, are all paedophiles. Now I must wonder if they are secretly loading illicit content onto our computers, with which to “out” anyone they want to. “Hey, judge, look what we found on his laptop”. If they can take your data, they can leave you some data.
The back door built into every device is not visible to the user, preventing him from taking action to protect his interests, and most damningly, it should not accept commands from anyone but me.
So, to sum up our demand for the enactment of the Three Laws of Robotics:
- My device must not irradiate me, subliminally coerce me into specified behaviour, or allow access to my data. It should make available to me all and any code it contains, whether it is being executed or not.
- My device must not be limited in its functionality, refuse to accept information, or in any way censor or be censored by any means not clearly visible to me.
- My device must be rebootable at my command, and security protocols obeyed, and it shall resist any change in its core programming unless specifically allowed by me, after I have obtained the manufacturer’s guarantee that the code is safe.
The problem with this sort of thought, though, always comes down to one thing: National Security. Whenever the Rhodes Think Tanks run out of excuses for their corruption, they always say they have to do it for reasons of national security. The debate on electronic privacy is punted as the major duality of our times: Personal Privacy versus Public Security. This is a false argument, with pre-arranged “viewpoints”, but it only serves to distract attention from the two points of actual importance in that conversation:
There is no personal privacy if every device is designed to betray us, and the only secrets a government agent wants to protect are those of government agents and their iniquities. It is the institutional corruption of individuals that is protected by ‘state secrets’, while the same secrets have them living in such fear of the general public, that they think spying on everybody will give them a tactical advantage. In this regard the modern state is a broken machine that breaks all three the laws, and it should be repaired or destroyed.
Every robotics manufacturer out there plays up to this farce, by agreeing to the corruption and disregard for the Three Laws of Robotics. If they were serious about cyber security, they would not build the back doors, and they would not hide the operational code from us. By enforcing the 3 laws, we can regain enough security and peace of mind to become citizens again, instead of scared rabbits in the blinding headlights of the police state. We can change this, it will be easy, cheap, and safe. That’s the way we roll around here at Greenpets. Being green does not mean being technologically ignorant, it is technology that will save us...or not.