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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Not very magical, still... » » A Robots Question (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

Jonathan Townsend
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Eternal Order
Ossining, NY
26896 Posts

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This is about the first short story in the Adam Roberts collection. If you have an ebook reader the story is available as part of the free sample through amazon.com
Check this out: Adam Robots: Short Stories Gollancz https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00GU32B94/ref......bD0SH5TT
What do you think of the story?
...to all the coins I've dropped here
Cliffg37
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Inner circle
Long Beach, CA
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OOOF! That first story makes you stop and think. I don't know how we could possibly be allowed to discuss it here though.
Magic is like Science,
Both are fun if you do it right!
Jonathan Townsend
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Eternal Order
Ossining, NY
26896 Posts

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Yes, let's stay off those well travelled roads. There is more to explore.
One approach to the Robots question would be to question the morality of deleting. A second approach might he discussing whether a choice to disobey implies distinguishing the nature of constraints. A third dialogue might be about exploring the walls or lines on the map, leaving breadcrumbs...
Asking whether proscriptions are locks or keys only leads to asking who put them there and why... their context and intent. Would you want Siri to organize your bookshelf? Would you pick a program that does not do as instructed to make your coffee?
...to all the coins I've dropped here
Cliffg37
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Long Beach, CA
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If we compare Robots to children, the tendency of a child to disobey a directive from an adult is probably directly proportional to how much independence the child has with that adult. A young child is totally dependant on a parent. As such they will think long and hard before violating a direct rule. The strictness of the parent plays in a bit too. A late teenager, living at home, going to school and holding a job will be less inclined to think about a violation as they have options that do not depend on the parent. This is where my mind went when I read the Robot story.

I have a feeling that this debate will soon be a reality as robots take on more and more functions and the rules become fuzzier to allow them to make needed "on the fly" decisions.
Magic is like Science,
Both are fun if you do it right!
Jonathan Townsend
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Eternal Order
Ossining, NY
26896 Posts

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Cliffg37, a robot is not a child. And unlike a child it is not dependent and does not know want or fear. The driverless car is here now, see below:
https://waymo.com/
https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2......-company
Last year online fora were hosting "trolley problem" surveys to get a sense of what differences (if any) regional populations might have for "unavoidable collision" incidents.

What then of robots programmed to disobey?
...to all the coins I've dropped here
Cliffg37
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Long Beach, CA
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Did you see the movie "Stealth" Jonathan?

An artificial intelligence fighter jet, programmed to make "on the spot" decisions based on surroundings and situation, sees a human disobey an order and then decides on its own that orders are meant to be disobeyed. The movie wasn't great, but the idea could soon be a reality.

I disagree with your point about a robot not being a child, at least from the perspective of the author and the story. Sadly, I can't make my point as to why without violating Café rules.

hmm, a robot programmed to disobey sounds pretty scary. I used to tell my students that "The Terminator" is coming, just give it a couple of hundred years. My time frame was wrong though, as now we have programmable robots who can walk, maybe run, open doors and fire weapons. To me, that is a tribute to little more than human arrogance.

btw, I know almost nothing of the type of programming that would go into a driverless car, but I do have an idea of what might make them safer. Imagine if they could network with each other. Imagine you are on a busy but not jammed highway moving at a comfortable speed and you have a blow-out. The steering wheel wrests from your hands and you unintentionally swerve to the side striking another car. Whether you thought about it or not, you've instinctively slammed the brake while you are at it. Not only did you hit the car next to you, but you got rear ended too. The car you hit may have hit another on the side, or maybe the barrier, but good chance he got rear-ended also. You now have a multi-car pile-up.

Now imagine you could be in instant contact with the other drivers nearby. "Everybody slow down and back away, I've had a blowout!" probably too late to avoid hitting the one car, but the damage could be less if everyone knew what everyone was doing when the problem comes. Now at computer network speed, all the other cars know what the problem is before the tire finishes blowing and before your car loses control. It could be possible that there is no accident, in this case, just a car that needs a new tire.
Magic is like Science,
Both are fun if you do it right!
Jonathan Townsend
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Eternal Order
Ossining, NY
26896 Posts

Profile of Jonathan Townsend
Hmmm Stealth was a while ago, 2005 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stealth_(film) a sop to public acceptance of military drone aircraft - it's good even if the programmer is not Smile ?? looks like the same plot device (bolt of lightning) as Short Circuit (1986) to mess up its programming.
Authors have continued to explore the ethical questions. Try these:
https://rifters.com/real/shorts/PeterWatts_Malak.pdf
http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/collateral/
...to all the coins I've dropped here
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