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Bench Talk for Design Engineers | The Official Blog of Mouser Electronics


Three Modern Laws of Robotics for Our AI Driven Lives Robert Ostrout

Small Robot on a table

We may not (yet) have robots walking our dogs, but robots are certainly making their way into our daily lives. With names like Alexa, Siri, and Cortana, robots are at our fingertips and poised for even more advancements and applications in 2018.

How do we prepare for this modern AI society, you ask? In the early 1940s, Isaac Asimov made famous the three laws of robotics for his short story, I Robot, which more or less stated:

  • A robot may not injure a human being.
  • A robot must obey orders given by a human being.
  • A robot must protect its own existence.

I suggest we make a new set of simple, modern laws of robotics—ones that can be applied by designers and engineers today and for years to come. Here are my new laws:

Law 1: A Robot Should Make Life Easier for the User

We can point to countless examples of this today, whether it be a Roomba to clean floors or Amazon’s Echo to order groceries and initiate delivery without our ever visiting the market. This kind of technology can complete these unimportant tasks while freeing up our time to focus on more meaningful tasks, such as spending time with family or sticking to a New Year’s resolution of going to the gym.

Law 2: A Robot Must Be Easily Accessible and User Friendly

What good is technology if we don’t know how to use it? If AI is going to become a significant part of our daily lives, then it’s going to need to easily understand the wants and needs of its users. Fortunately, many of us have this kind of easily-accessible AI at our literal fingertips throughout the day—our smart phones. Many of our smartphones come equipped with some type of user-activated AI, such as personal assistants and apps that anticipate your needs based on preferences, browsing history, and similar. These friendly mobile sidekicks may be lacking some features, but they're some of the most accessible systems available today.  

Law 3: A Robot Should Learn and Remember Its Users’ Preferences

This is the most difficult law by far and the closest one resembling some of our favorite science fiction stories. Fear not, however: The learning I’m talking about has less to do with activating Skynet and more to do with how we as users want our information given to us. An example of this would be remembering your favorite music stations or where you last left off in the audiobook you were listening to. These may seem like trivial things, but the more a device is able to learn about and remember how a user wants their information, the easier it is to give us exactly want we want.

Conclusion

It’s easy to see just how interconnected our daily lives are with AI. No matter where you are—whether at a self-checkout at a grocery store or in your car asking Siri for direction—these systems are in place to make our lives easier. What’s more, their influence is just getting started. Ghosts and goblins may be works of fiction, but robots are real, and they’re looking to make our lives easier. So next time you ask Siri or Alexa a question, you may want to watch your tone because you never know: One day they could be the ones asking you the questions.



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Robert OstroutRobert Ostrout is proud Journalism and Public Relations graduate from The University of Texas in Arlington and currently serves in the role of Quote Specialist at Mouser Electronics. Robert is also a founding member of TheSpeedGamers, a charity group that has raised over $750,000 for various national and international charity organizations such as St. Jude, ACT Today and Heifer International. In his free time Robert enjoys long walks through Skyrim and long conversations about how Batman is unquestionably the best super hero.


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