back to article Robot goes berserk in Balkan lab: 6 boffins given dead arms

The location: Deep in remote East-central Europe, the very stamping grounds of Igor and Dr Frankenstein. The scene: A laboratory, where dedicated scientists are toiling to create powerful artificial servants for the betterment of humanity - admittedly, using methods that their professional colleagues might deem questionable. …


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  1. Anonymous Coward

    Good Job...

    ...give that man a labcoat!

  2. Daniel B.

    Wot? No ROTM tag?

    This article lacks the RoTM tag!

  3. Mystic Megabyte

    Boffins Biffed By Baffy Bot?

    I bet someone beat me to it!

  4. Anonymous John

    No first law of robotics then?

    Mine's the one with the copy of I,Robot in the pocket.

    1. Marvin the Martian

      He probably tried...

      ... but there are inherent illogicalities in the laws, making them impossible to implement.

      Mine's the one with Sladek's "Roderick" in the pocket.

    2. AndrueC Silver badge

      A matter of priority.

      The zeroeth law might be triggered (that's the boffin's excuse after all).

      "A robot may not harm humanity, or, by inaction, allow humanity to come to harm"

      You could argue that obeying the first law requires a knowledge of human pain thresholds and physical durability. Beating up scientists in order to obtain that information might be justifiable for the good of the species. After all the zeroeth law apparently allowed at least two robots to inflict pain and suffering on millions of people, meddle with the space-time continuum and put the entire species at risk

      Mine's the one with the full set of Foundation stories(*) in the pocket.

      (*)Yes, even /End of Eternity/

      1. Tom 13

        Even the zeroth law has huge problems

        I don't recall exactly where I saw it, but somewhere someone has used the Zeroth law to have the robots place all of humanity in permanent suspended animation because that is the only way to guarantee the outcome of the law.

  5. BingBong

    photos or it didn't happen...

    I bet it didn't look like Simon from the Tomb Raider movie 8-)

  6. Elmer Phud

    Baffled Boffins Battered By Batty Bot

    as per title

    1. Neil Greatorex

      Baffled Balkan Boffins Battered By Borut's Batty Bot

      Just added a couple :-)

  7. Annihilator Silver badge


    Where does Simon work these days?

  8. Anonymous Coward

    So, uhh... many comments will there be from people who are taking this seriously?

  9. Bill Neal


    Why is this not RoTM???

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Interesting idea, but until the robots start hitting people without being told to, I don't think I'll be too worried.

    Still, very interesting that we're having this discussion at all.

  11. Dave 32

    Rise Of The Mach@%)&!@<NO CARRIER>



  12. Anonymous Coward

    I, for one

    Welcome our robot masters. I simply can't imagine being attacked by; and havnig to beat off a robot.

    1. Jock in a Frock
      Thumb Up

      @ AC

      "and havnig to beat off a robot."

      * snigger *

    2. Brian 20

      Make love, not war

      Beating off a robot? The thought arouses me! But how about this: getting beaten off by a robot.

      I think I have to go to the toilet now.

      1. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

        Re: Make love, not war


  13. Robert E A Harvey

    is this


  14. Doug Glass

    Since the slaves beat their masters,

    is this "master-bation"?

  15. Joe H.

    Laws of Robotics

    "Rather, Povše contended, he had instructed his metal henchman to attack the other scientists in order to discover better ways to program robots not to hurt people. "

    Apparently this is how it starts.

  16. Mark Olleson

    Experiments to improve knowledge of robotics

    This is was the kind of argument that Josef Mengele used when conducting experiments on concentration inmates.

    1. TeeCee Gold badge

      @Mark Olleson

      WTF? Indeed.

      Josef Megele was a roboticist as well? Who knew?

      Bit of renaissance man then. Specifically the sort who were busily working the thumb screws, racks, iron maidens and choking pears in order to keep science going in the right direction at the time of the renaissance.......

    2. Lottie

      I award thee


  17. Anonymous Coward


    Hardly. Berserkers wore wolf skins and killed people with single blows. This was but a whimpy imitation. Back to the programming dungeon guys and don't come out until you have redeemed yourselves.

  18. John Tserkezis

    Are they kidding?

    "Determining the limits of pain during robot-human impacts this way will allow the design of robot motions that cannot exceed these limits,"

    So their reasoning is, people are still going to get beaten, just not to death anymore.

    Then again, this is coming from the same mob who created the killer robots in the first place...

    Till that minor issue is addressed, I welcome our new shiny-assed overlords.

  19. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

    Robots going berserk?

    Time to call in the Material Defender.

  20. Glenn Gillis
    Thumb Down

    That is *so* not what really happened!

    Follow the links to the New Scientist article: the whole thing was a designed experiment to test human pain thresholds: "But the robo-battering is all in a good cause, insists Borut Povše, who has ethical approval for the work from the University of Ljubljana, where he conducted the research. He has persuaded six male colleagues to let a powerful industrial robot repeatedly strike them on the arm, to assess human-robot pain thresholds."

  21. Anonymous Coward

    American perspective?

    "that's when litigation starts" - or, possibly, when litigation stops and a new defence project starts...

  22. Anonymous Coward

    May I be the very, very first...

    to welcome our dead arm gifting robotic overlords!

  23. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

    A serbian robot maybe?

    It just needs tatoos and that arm

    as well as a deep voice in which to ask you whether you have a problem.

  24. Anonymous Coward

    Next step

    It gets the laser out if anyone tries to unplug it

  25. Disco-Legend-Zeke

    Two Words...

    ...Three Laws

  26. Tigra 07
    Thumb Up

    no title required

    "he personally had programmed one of his own robots to attack him with a knife earlier this year in the style of Inspector Clouseau and his servant Kato."

    Rather than hiding in the washing machine with a knife, this thing probably was a washing machine with a knife

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    No no no!


    I can't believe we have to go over this again!

  28. veskebjorn

    Slovenian boffins follow in the footsteps of noted experimentalist Al Capone

    I am shocked, Mr. Page, that you have failed to note the contributions of one of the United States' most prominent experimentalists in this field. In 1929, I believe, Mr. Al Capone arranged an experiment to determine the amount of damage that could be inflicted by a baseball bat on a human being. Please note, those of you who think "cricket" when you hear "bat," that baseball bats are round in the minor dimensions, not flat like cricket bats..

    To further his scientific pursuits, Mr. Capone held an hours-long, booze-filled feast for scores of his associates to "honor" three of his employees whom he regarded as traitors. At the end of Mr. Capone's toasts to the three, his bodyguards tied the guests of honor to their chairs and gagged them. Mr. Capone picked up a baseball bat, walked around the very long table, and clubbed, in turn, each of the "traitors" multiple times.

    Long story short--all three men died, and the baseball bat in the hands of a psychopath was proven to be capable of lethality. Why the Slovenian experiments did not continue until the robot's lethality had been assessed, I do not know. I regard this error as evidence of a Slovenian failure to fully embrace the scientific method. These Slovenian failures will continue to haunt their scientific endeavors until they adopt "Western" practices.

  29. Mage Silver badge

    Read More


    I've got little boxes with numbers and As with ~ on top. Am I missing a font?

    I saw a picture of said Robotic experiments. It's like a scene from Hammer, but I didn't spot Boris Karloff or Peter Cushing,

  30. Daniel Snowden

    Was I the only one thinking...

    ...of a recent episode of BOFH?

  31. wiml

    This is an active and exciting field of research

    Previously, in robot arm + human arm stabby stabby: and .

    And from the same folks, we've got robot-assisted being-hit-on-the-head lessons:

    I look forward to the day when robots are skilled at all the important forms of human interaction --- bludgeoning, punching, stabbing, slicing ... who knows, perhaps even taunting and pushing.

  32. The BigYin

    Hmm...I see a new frontier in martial arts

    Many arts use joint manipulation to cause posture instability, throw, inflict pain, subdue or out-right break the joint. These methods evolved over centuries of study, practice and visits to the bone-saw to have limbs re-set.

    I propose that in the immediate future we need to study the articulations our robot nemeses (or nemesi, if you prefer) and apply the same thinking. We need to ensure that our puny meat-power passes through the robo-killers' areas of greatest weakness and bring them down, should an EMP weapon not be readily to hand.

    Suggestions of names of this future-art greatly appreciated.

  33. Timothy Slade

    @Doug Glass



    slave (n.)

    late 13c., "person who is the property of another," from O.Fr. esclave (13c.), from M.L. Sclavus "slave" (cf. It. schiavo, Fr. esclave, Sp. esclavo), originally "Slav" (see Slav), so called because of the many Slavs sold into slavery by conquering peoples.


    from Czech robotnik "slave," from robota "forced labor, drudgery," from robotiti "to work, drudge," from an Old Czech source akin to Old Church Slavonic rabota "servitude," from rabu "slave"

    Funny to refer to the robot as a slave (Slav) when its creators are Slavs, and robot is a slavic word.

    Made me funny anyway.

  34. Graham Marsden

    "an American perspective"

    ie don't worry about fixing problems, just find someone to sue!

  35. Eletruk

    OK, now read this unslanted version of the same story

  36. Thomas Allen


    Robot of the Month

    (the monthly centerfold in Robot Operators: The Magazine)

    Robots Overwhelm Terrified Mankind = Really Old Technology Myth

  37. AtomDreams


    Not to be picky...but castle Frankenstein is located in the state of Hessen, West Germany.

  38. Anonymous Coward

    Hmm, Mad Scientist much!

    He seems to think industrial robots are toys and can't seriously hurt or kill people, he's either stupid, crazy, or a closet psychopath!

    Any sane person would do hazardous these tests like these with sensor packed dummies, like those used in car crash tests.

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Next up..

    . a large batch of this machines has appeared in Guantanamo Bay under a deal of which details are labelled National Security.

    "It's a great day for America", claimed a spokesman, "we can now assure the public that no Americans are involved in torture. Holding them down, maybe, but not inflicting pain".

    Rumours that scientists were working on waterboarding algorithms were dismissed as "merely informed speculation", with the reporting journalists declining invitations to "come and see for themselves".

    Sorry, I'm in a sarcastic mood. I'll get some coffee now.

  40. Anonymous Coward

    Rise of the Machines?

    Come on..... where's the RotM tag?

  41. YumDogfood

    The _other_ kind of Berserker

    1. John F***ing Stepp

      You are right.

      The fellow is a 'Goodlife'.

  42. Mark Rosher

    Checking the BoFH files

    Is this an errant episode?

  43. Neil 49

    fight obesity...

    ...have vending machines that hit fat people over and over. "you do not need chocolate"

  44. Morpho Devilpepper

    Should've seen it coming.

    Hey. You. Humanoid science-type person. Would you care to receive a Megahertz Donut?


  45. gimbal

    Find someone to sue, *then* fix the problem, then go to Cabo San Lucas on the winnings some kind of partial ordering.

    Now that's American(r)

    Mine's the one with a hot-rod mag in the pocket, just 'cos.

  46. chrisjw37
    Jobs Horns

    Evil triumphs

    My dastardly plan succeeded then..............

    [Insert evil laughs here]

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