Curriculum  |    |  April 20, 2017

Teaching robots right from wrong: Scientists and philosophers team up to help robots make good choices

Curriculum by Kathryn Hulick.
Published in Science News for Students.

Excerpt:

You’re rushing across the school parking lot to get to your first class on time when you notice a friend is in trouble. She’s texting and listening to music on her headphones. Unawares, she’s also heading straight for a gaping hole in the sidewalk. What do you do?

The answer seems pretty simple: Run over and try to stop her before she hurts herself. Who cares if you might be a little late for class?

To figure out the best solution, such a decision balances the effects of your choice. It’s an easy decision. You don’t even have to think hard about it. You make such choices all the time. But what about robots? Can they make such choices? Should a robot stop your friend from falling into the hole? Could it?             

Not today’s robots. They simply aren’t smart enough to even realize when someone is in danger. Soon, they might be. Yet without some rules to follow, a robot wouldn’t know the best choice to make. [ . . . ]

About the Author

Kathryn Hulick is a freelance science writer and the author of Strange But True: 10 of the World’s Greatest Mysteries Explained, a book about the science of ghosts, aliens and more. She loves hiking, gardening and robots.