South Korea drafts robot ethics code

The world imitates science fiction once again, as South Korea announces a project to draw up a code of ethics “to stop humans misusing robots – or vice versa.”

“Hye-Young adds that the government’s guidelines will reflect the “Three Laws of Robotics” put forward by science fiction author Isaac Asimov.”

Good old Isaac – his mark on history is assured, the media can’t write a robot article without giving him a plug…

This headline rang Pavlovian bells for me, and I realised that was because I blogged about a very similar announcement from the European Robotics Research Network back in June 2006, in a post called ‘Legislating against robot rape‘ (which naturally mentions Asimov’s Laws, because I wasn’t so worried about cliche back then, cough cough):

“You can’t rape an autonomous vacuum cleaner (although you could conceivably have sex with it, and knowing humans, people probably already have – the tales of people with vacuum related injuries turning up in casualty departments are too common to be completely unfounded). But something with a mind of its own, however limited? That’s another question entirely.”

Despite its potential import, it’s a hard subject to treat seriously in journalistic mode – but it seems to fare far better in fiction. Curious.

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