A robot whose sole function is to stab people in the finger has been created. While some parties would claim this is the beginning of the end and how the machines get to rule the world, the creator of the device had a whole other plan in mind – exposure therapy.
Media and culture in the past half a century contain many different views and takes on the robot. The first time the concept was given life was in a Czech play written in 1921, “Rossum’s Universal Robots” written by Karel Capek. The term robot also comes from the Czech language and roughly translates into laborer or serf.
Isaac Asimov was the man who made robots famous through several of his works. He also authored The Three Laws of Robotics as part of the short story “Runaround”, written in 1942.
“1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.”
“2. A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.”
“3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws.”
In present times, opinions on robots are varied. Some people believe robots will see the human race as destructive and weak, or as a source of energy. Either way, humanity will be either enslaved or wiped out. Others believe that with careful programming and understanding, robots will be humanity’s greatest ally and creation.
Whatever the case will end up being, there are people terrified of the concept of robots currently. Alexander Reben, a California roboticist, and artist, from Stochastic Labs in Berkley, build his machine with those people in mind. Reben has created the robot hoping it will help people face their fears and assist them to get over it.
The “dreadful machine” is a simple black box on top of which a mechanical arm has been mounted. The robot scans for a human finger in a designated location, between a pair of brackets. When anyone places their finger between the brackets and the robot scans it, it will just prod the finger tip with the attached sharp implement.
Reben also firmly believes that creating a robot which intentionally disregards Asimov’s Three Laws will be a great step for humanity in accepting the future reality of free-willed robots. He is aware that his creation could spark debates between philosophers and ethicists.
The robot is freely available at Stochastic Labs to any and all who wish to conquer their fears.
Image Courtesy of Alexander Reben’s YouTube Channel.