iRobot Arms Bomb-Inspector ‘Bots With Tasers


One law down, two to go? iRobot, manufacturer of the Roomba vacuum, has teamed up with Taser to arm its Packbot robots with stun guns. But it’s hard to say whether this is actually a violation of the first of science fiction author Isaac Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics: “A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.” Clearly, arming a robot with a stun gun is the first step towards breaking that rule. But the Packbots, currently used as bomb inspectors in Iraq, are remote-controlled. If there’s a human operator standing at a distance with his finger on the Taser trigger, is it really the robot that’s doing the harm? Yeah, probably. But please discuss.—Gregory Mone