Who’s Liable if AI Goes Wrong?

Boston Dynamics AtlasThe three laws of robotics

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

A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.

A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws.

– Isaac Asimov, ‘Runaround’, 1942

Thinkers like Asimov imagined a world where machines had to make what appear to be moral decisions. With the rise of autonomous, self-learning systems which power everything from planes to Netflix recommendations, we’re now entering the world Asimov foresaw.

But the famed author wasn’t laying out a machine behaviour manifesto for when the time finally came. He set about finding flaws in his own reasoning, probing the three laws countless times for paradoxes in his fiction.

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