Monday, July 28, 2008

Early History of the Robot Rebellion

There will come a time when we are governed by robots. That's a given. What we can speculate about, however, is what their history will read like. Here we learn about the first people killed by robots.
The earliest robo-death was Robert Williams. He was killed in a Ford plant in Flat Rock, MI by a robot. It was a parts fetching robot. It wasn't fetching fast enough so Robert Williams was sent back to get a part. The robot didn't see him and killed him because he was standing in the way. This led to some of the first case law in robo-ethics. It seems his family sued the manufacturer of the robot for not programming it not to kill. They were awarded $10 million (over $31 million in today's money), Michigan's largest personal injury settlement at the time.
Two years later at a Kawasaki factory in Japan, Kenji Urada, a maintenance engineer, was shoved into a grinder by a robot and killed. Because it was Japan, there was no personal injury lawsuit.
Perhaps these stories will be in the history books our robot overlords make us read.

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