Remember the old saying, “don’t bite the hand that feeds you?” Well, this robot is choosing to prick the fingers that build it.
“The First Law,” as the robot is nicknamed, is a simple machine made up of sensors, a metal arm, and replaceable diabetes needles. A random algorithm programmed into the robot decides whether or not to deliver a sharp prick to your finger.
The bot’s creator, artist and roboticist, Alexander Reben, is not a masochist. Instead, he built the bot to spark a conversation about artificial intelligence.
Reben says it’s important that people discuss the ethics of creating super smart robots and imagine living with them before they become a reality.
“A robot that’s built to cause pain and injury, what does that mean? And if that’s not all the robot does, but there is a probability that a robot could do that sort of thing, what do we have to think about now and how do we plan for that?”
I tried out the villainous machine for myself and have to admit that I was a bit confused about how I should feel. After all, I can yell and hit a person that hurts me, but a robot…what good would that do?
This is not the first time Reben has dabbled with the human-machine relationship. His latest projects include a knife-wielding robot that mimics the symptoms of a person with violent mood swings. Last year, Reben also created a mask that allows other people to speak in place of the wearer.
But Reben’s most famous piece of art is a documentary, “Robots in Residence,” made entirely by a series of small cardboard robots he calls, BlabDroids. In the documentary, the tiny droids ask strangers a series of serious questions like, “If you died tomorrow, what would you regret the most?” Surprisingly, people share details with the bot they would most likely never share with a stranger.
It’s a phenomenon that Reben attributes to the “Eliza Effect,” assuming that computer behaviors are the same as human behaviors.
Even now, most people have a near heart attack when they lose their phones, so it will be curious to see how humanity deals with technology that will mimic our brains so well, it may even outsmart us.