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San Francisco legislators this week changed course on their killer robot policy, banning the police from using remote-control bots fitted with explosives. For now. On Tuesday, the city's Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to explicitly prohibit lethal force by police robots following a public backlash and worldwide media …
What are those 17 robots doing now? Search shows nothing. Bought with no plan in mind. Maybe a kickback was involved.
Even in todays world of active shooters, they almost always have hostages and/or kill themselves quickly, and/or are driving away, in which case the exploding robots are no use.
Solution in search of a problem. Another problem is that when you have a shiny hammer then things start to look like nails just because you want to hammer on something. OK, the chance of that kind of mistake might be small, but so is the chance SF would actually have a static holed up active shooter without hostages that could be approached by a bomb carrying robot.
And never, ever would there be 17 such cases on the same day. So what are those robots for?
If such robots were really needed (not saying they are, but for the sake of argument, suppose they are) it could be done at the state level, and require civilian governor approval. A few robots for the whole state with a few state trooper operators trained to use them. Dispatched on need.
> So what are those robots for?
As you said, gifting some money into the right hands, those hands who will scratch your back (or have already done it).
Bomb carrying robots are a nonsense, as you already said the use cases are few. Having one, just in case, might indeed be justified (so you don't have to sacrifice a useful and expensive bomb disposal one), maybe two if the first one is in maintenance when you need it, but having 17 of those makes no sense, even with redundancy and spares. How many people do you plan to blow up per month?
"And never, ever would there be 17 such cases on the same day. So what are those robots for?"
Well, not that it's a good idea, but if you decided that bomb-carrying robots were necessary, you'd want some spares because I'm not sure exactly what state one would be in after it detonates its payload. I'm guessing it requires some significant repair if it's not scrapped outright, so the latency between using one and having it repaired or replaced could be a while. Again, not saying this justifies having them, but just as we keep some extra laptops around just in case one breaks and we want to get up and running faster, if you're going to have one robot bomber, you'd probably have some backups for that as well.
It's still there, we're just testing whether XKCD was right about the order mattering so much.
The comic is clearly referring to those laws, including the firm order as set forth in the stories. I don't remember the stories showing what happens in the preserve robot > preserve humans scenario, perhaps because the answer is so obviously bad for humans that it's not worth investigating. Many of the stories also called attention to the weakness of the laws, one which becomes all the more obvious when dealing with either human-like AIs or something with limitations (either technical or artificial) as would be seen if we built robots today. I don't feel XKCD's quick joke either mistreats the original stories or is even all that redundant to them.
In one story, work was being done in an environment with elevated radiation levels. Slightly more dangerous for humans, instantly deadly for androids. There was no stopping the "Human in danger!" reflex, so the androids were constantly frying their brains. So a special robot was made that would not "endanger human life through action". As opposed to "through action or inaction". The result was bad.
In another case, a half-hearted command was given to an android to perform a task which endangered it. Because of the weak command, the android (the only one on the mission, and the one responsible for various critical functions of the mission) basically went crazy.
So it's not enough that 1 > 2 > 3, it's more like 1 >> 2 >> 3. And Randalf skimmed over that.
Civilians should have access to the same law enforcement tools. Disarming citizens and restricting access to like-for-like tools results in a police state, leading to tyranny & oppression. Don't tell me it won't happen, Human history shows it has happened repeatedly. Disagree at your own ignorance.
Therefore.... If cops get remote controlled exploding robots, then I want one too!
I want one too!
RC toy car + used smartphone + home-made explosive. Yes, with the last you need to be a bit careful, but as this is an anti-personnel weapon it doesn't need to be a lot. The old "gasoline vapor in a container" type, or even a powder-dispersal arrangement, would probably do.
I'm not recommending this, just pointing out that these "robots" are fancy remote-control toys, and the sufficiently foolhardy could easily rig something similar up. More easily than, say, manufacturing a quality gun.