The unique premise that rewrites the laws of robotics of Isaac Asimov, the father of science fiction


Science fiction writer Issac Asimov wrote about the three laws that should be used to control intelligent machines:

A robot must not injure a human being or, through inaction, should allow it to get hurt.

A robot must follow orders given by humans, except when these orders go against the first law.

A robot must protect its own existence, provided that protection does not conflict with the first two laws.

As so often happens, science fiction has become factual science.

Isaac Asimov's incredible predictions about 2014 that became reality

A report published by the Royal Society and the British Academy suggests that there should not be three but a single fundamental principle to govern the intelligent machines that will soon live among us:

"Human beings must prosper."

According to Professor Dama Ottoline Leyser, who codirects the group of scientific policy advisers of the real society, the prosperity of human beings should be the key behind how intelligent systems are governed.

"That was the term that really summed up what we wanted to say," he told the BBC.


"The prosperity of people and communities should come first, and we believe Asimov's principles can be included in this."

The report suggests the creation of a new body to ensure that machines serve people instead of controlling them.

It considers that a system of democratic oversight is essential for regulating the development of systems that are taught to themselves.

Without it, these machines have the potential to cause a lot of damage, he says.

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It does not warn of the possibility that the machines enslaved to the human beings, at least not at the moment.

But he points out that when using systems that learn and make decisions independently in a home or to provide a large number of commercial and public services, the possibility of many bad things to happen is open.

The report calls for the implementation of protective measures to prioritize the interests of humans over machines.

and claims that the development of these machines cannot be governed solely using technical standards.



Antony Walker, deputy director of the TechUK lobby group and one of the authors of the work, noted that ethical and democratic values should also be taken into account.

"Many benefits will be obtained through these technologies, but the public must be confident that these systems are well thought out and regulated correctly," he said.

Asimov's era

The report suggests that the issue be dealt with in a completely new way.

It raises that an "administrative body" formed by experts and people involved in the topic create an ethical framework for the development of technologies using artificial intelligence.

Recommends four supreme principles to promote human prosperity:

To protect individual and collective rights and interests.

Ensure transparency, accountability and inclusion.

Seek good practice and learn from success and failure.

To improve the current system of democratic government.

And he says that it is urgent to create this new framework to govern the machines because Asimov's age has already arrived.

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The development of autonomous cars, for example, raises questions about how human security should be prioritized.

What would happen in a situation where the machine has to choose between the safety of those inside the vehicle and that of pedestrians?

It is also necessary to determine the responsibilities in cases of accidents.

Is it the fault of the owner of the car or the machine?


Another example is the emergence of intelligent systems of personal instruction.

They identify a student's strengths and weaknesses and teach him based on that.

Should I allowed to a system so teach without clear rules?

How can we be sure that we are comfortable with the way the machine guides the child, in the same way that we worry for how a teacher teaches?

These are not issues that have to solve the technological companies that develop the systems, they concern us all.

That is why the report notes that the details of intelligent systems cannot be kept secret by trade.

They must be accessible to the public, so that if something starts to go wrong it can be stopped and corrected.

Today's standards are focused on personal data.

But do not say anything about all the information we give daily through the localization of our cell phone, our purchase preferences, smart electricity regulators and "like" we give online.

There are systems that can unite all this information and build a personality profile that could potentially be used by insurance companies to determine certain premiums or by employers to determine the aptitude for certain jobs.

These systems can offer enormous benefits, but if we don't watch them we might find that our possibilities in life are determined by machines.


The key, according to Professor Leyser, is that the regulations should be made by case.

"An algorithm that predicts which books should be recommended to you at Amazon is something very different from using an algorithm to diagnose a disease in a medical context," he explained to the BBC.

"So it doesn't make sense to regulate all the algorithms equally without taking into account what they're used for."

The British Conservative Party pledged in its manifesto the creation of a digital Act and a Commission on the ethical use of digital data.

While most political speeches refer to curbing the use of the Internet to incite terrorism and violence, some believe that the minutes and the Commission may also adopt some of the ideas proposed in this report.

The British digital affairs minister, Matt Hancock, told the BBC that it was "essential" to establish the right rules on the use of data as a society.

"Data management and the effective and ethical use of information are vital to the future of our economy and our society," he said.

"We are committed to continuing to work with the industry to achieve the best result," he added.

In essence, smart systems only take off if people trust them and how they are being regulated.

Without that, the enormous potential they have to improve human prosperity will never be achieved.

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