Promobot IR77 has a serious case of wanderlust, which may result in it being shut down.
For understandable reasons, we humans are infatuated with the idea of Artificial Intelligence (AI). After all, ‘who am I’ and ‘where did I come from’ are some of the most contemplated questions ever. If man was successful at developing AI, would some of life’s answers be revealed?
The prospect is intriguing, but the dream isn’t without its drawbacks. Just take into consideration the lessons conveyed through popular movies such as The Terminator, iRobot, and The Matrix. Is it really intelligent for man to play God?
While the public debates on the ethics of doing so, scientists have continued to push forward with the ambition to develop incredibly-advanced robots. Unfortunately, we might already be witnessing what happens when modern technology goes awry.
According to Sputnik News, a robot named Promobot IR77 keeps trying to escape from a lab in Perm, Russia, and scientists are stunned as to how and why. Designed to serve as a concierge or a visitor guide, the bot was built for easy human interaction, complete with speech-recognition software, a distinguished chest display, and a program that can recognize certain faces.
Apparently, the bot’s developers were testing the machine’s ability to avoid obstacles, which is what may have resulted in the machine getting the travel bug. When the machine escaped the first time, “the robot was learning automatic movement algorithms on the testing ground,” says Promobot co-founder Oleg Kivokurtsev.
On July 17th, the robot came to life and fled its confinements after an engineer working at the laboratory left a gate open. Promobot made it only 150 feet into the city before running out of battery juice, however, so it sat in the middle of Perm’s street for 40 minutes. The public was dumbfounded as cars came to a stop and traffic cops tried to wrap their heads around the situation.
Then, a few weeks later, the bot tried to make its way out of the facility again, despite having been reprogrammed extensively to avoid the issue. With few guesses as to why the bot is so desperate to flee, the creators may have no choice but to shut it down.
Regarding the bot’s delinquent behavior, Kivokurtsev said:
“We’ve cross-flashed the memory of the robot with serial number IR77 twice, yet it continues to persistently move towards the exit. We’re considering recycling the IR77 because our clients hiring it might not like that specific feature.”
With the confusion of Artificial Intelligence comes the ethics of destroying a robot that exhibits human behavior. Fans of the runaway robot are up in arms about the possibility of Promobot being shut down and have (angrily) commented on the ordeal.
One individual asked for Promobot to be kept “alive,” and another begged, “Give it to me, please. We’ll find a common language.”
One woman appealed to IR77’s makers:
“Why destroy it? You’ve broken my heart. Can’t you find any use for this marvel? You should’ve given it a name or asked people to find one on the Web. This would only raise the people’s interest in your brainchild.”
Remember, it was Android Dick, created by roboticist David Hanson, who closely resembles that science fiction writer Philip K. Dick, who was interviewed by a reporter from PBS Nova and said, “I’ll keep you warm and safe in my people zoo, where I can watch you for ol’ times sake.”
Considering this, shutting down the bot until all of its programming kinks are worked out doesn’t seem like a bad idea…
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