I feel it incumbent upon me to apologise to my regular visitors for the considerable period of silence between this and my previous post.

This is due to my recent pre-occupation with an extremely topical whistle-blower project, which I hope to break soon in the national press and, of course, at this site.

In the meantime, however, I’d like to talk about robotics.

Isaac Asimov   formulated three laws related to that science, the first of which states that a robot should be programmed never to harm a human, either deliberately or by its inaction.

Seems quite logical, not to mention prudent.

However, robotics expert Shuji Hashimoto proposes a new and somewhat thought-provoking relationship between machines and their human creators.

He thinks that robots should be allowed to experience a kind of adolescence or “teenage”.

His rationale, presumably, is based upon the philosophy of some educationists who believe that individuals given a free reign in their post-pubescent years develop stronger characters and mature into more “rounded” and independent adults, better able to think for themselves and make decisions, than those of their peers who have experienced a more structured and disciplined pre-adulthood (one may be forgiven if she has forgotten that the subjects of this discourse are non-human).

Furthermore, he is of the opinion that they should be allowed to harm humans, even terminate them if circumstances so dictate, which puts Shimon Peres’ vision of a deterrent “based on miniaturised arms or on remote-control robots operating on the battlefield; perhaps even on a type of intelligence hitherto unknown, grounded in revolutionary nanotechnology” into frightening perspective.
Other concerns, meanwhile, occupy the minds of scientists and engineers engaged in a series of experiments at a house in Hertfordshire into the way people react and behave around its sole resident, a 1.2 metre tall domestic-servant robot with a silver  head and “sinister” gripping claws.

Early evidence hints that humans may be “uneasy” in the company of robotic servants.

Domestic robots, according to human-robot interaction expert Kerstin Deutenhahn, must be able to perform in a way that humans find “acceptable and comfortable”.

Perhaps some research of this kind should be conducted with our politicians and civil and public servants in mind.

Asimov’s 3 laws of robotics:

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

A robot must obey the orders given to 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 Law.

Three Laws of Robotic Sexuality (1982) is a novel by French writer Roland C. Wagner. It parodies Asimov by introducing a corresponding set of Laws which govern robots used for sexual gratification.

The Three Laws of Wagner:

A robot cannot copulate with a human being without his agreement; nor can it be passive and let this human masturbate.

A robot must obey all perverse desires of human beings, except if they are in contradiction with the First Law.

A robot must protect its virginity if such protection is not in contradiction with the First or Second Laws.

Again, only a slightly fertile imagination is required to enable the transference of emphasis here from robotics to politics.