Thursday, April 4, 2013

The next Isaac Asimov?

Whilst watching a program on robots and prosthetics the boy asked the question...

If the arm is connected directly to the brain and can be controlled by thoughts, what is to stop the arm from doing something bad?  Because if I've already had the thought, how do I stop it? 

It truly made me stop and think. At what point in a brain command do our ethics and morals kick in? Our own flesh and blood limbs are controlled by a multitude of brain checks and balances. What about a prosthetic arm that is only connected to one batch of brainwaves? And it bypasses the moral checkpoints?  Can a person then be held accountable for merely thinking a harmful thought? There have been thriller movies made of transplanted parts retaining the evil from whence they came but has anyone else asked this particular question?  Have I missed that somewhere along the way?

It certainly takes Mr. Asimov's 3 Rules of Robotics to a level I haven't thought about.  Just imagine what else the brain of this brilliant 7-year-old man child of ours holds!

  1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
  2. A robot must obey orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
  3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.


Soozcat said...

It's an astute point, and one I had never considered. Though there are clearly people in the world who have trouble controlling their impulses, so it is already an issue -- but to a much smaller extent.

Dori said...

Yes...that whole "impulse control". How would that factor into the scenario? Certainly a fascinating line of thinking! I'm really waiting for him to write his thoughts down.