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Robots, AI ‘new machine of malice’ that have killed many so far!

By Saima Siddiqui 
Updated Date

Lucknow: The Artificial Intelligence (AI) and bots have taken up this modern world, making our lives much easier, smarter and safer. From SIRI to self-driving cars, humans and AI have established a relation that works on mutual understanding, putting humans in the focal point.

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But this growing acquaintance has worried many experts as AI can encompass anything from Google’s search algorithms to autonomous weapons. While, there is still a lot to learn about AI, it will be interesting to look back at the incidents that have earned AI/ robots reputation of ‘machine of malice’ for their destructive behaviour that killed several humans, putting a question mark on its reliability.

In March 2018, a horrific road accident was reported after an experimental Uber vehicle, operating in autonomous mode, struck and killed a pedestrian while she was crossing the street in Tempe, Arizona – the first fatal accident of its kind. 

Another bloodcurdling case of robotic homicide was reported way back in 1981 in Kawasaki Heavy Industries factory in Japan when an employee working on a robot was scooped up by its hydraulic arm and hauled into a grinding machine where he got crushed to death.

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While, on July 7, 2016, five Dallas police officers were murdered and seven others left injured after a bomb-disposal robot with an explosive device on its manipulator’s arm- used to kill a suspect, went on a shooting spree.

In an another spine-chilling incident a 136-kg, K5 security robot employed to guard the Stanford Shopping Center in Palo Alto, California, rammed into a 16-month-old baby and kept on driving, leaving the child bruised with a swollen foot and sore head.

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Who would have thought that stepping into an unlatched robotic cage could be life-threatening? But it proved to be fatal for a car factory employee, who was killed as the robotic arm presumed that the intruder was an auto-component and clasped him by the neck, stifling him to death. The incident took place in the USA in 2001.

This frightening case of robot malice seems right out of a terrifying sci-fi film as it created a blood-splattered scene leaving nine soldiers dead and 14 others grievously injured. In 2009, South African National Defence Force, during a live fire training exercise, a computerised Oerlikon MKS barrelled anti-aircraft gun, underwent an unexpected software malfunction, causing the weapon to fire in full-auto mode at the rate of 550 rounds per minute while pivoting about crazily in 360-degree circles.

The story of these modern day ‘machine of malice’ doesn’t stop here but have more incidents that could literally change your perception about this master piece of technology. As per the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, in the USA alone at least 33 deaths have occurred and that the number is inclined to soar as robots leave their cages and begin walking among us.

Up to now, we saw how the robots went corrupt and killed humans intentionally or unintentionally, not known yet. But in wrong hands Robots can potentially be machine of mass destructions and can be used for illegal activities as are currently being used as tools to commit crimes in creative ways by criminals and terrorists. Drones are also being used to smuggle drugs, mobile phones and weapons into prisons as electrified fences and pointed structures were made to prevent prisoners from escaping not to secure it from drones and robots.

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The drug cartels in Mexico have started using drones since 2010 to transport drugs. Drones have started off to be a perfect drug mule in the sense that they are fraught with less risk to narcotics trafficking organisations. Additionally, drones, when compared with their human counterparts cost significantly less, as a drug mule can earn as much as $10,000 for successful delivery of a single shipment.

As a matter of fact, by 2012, drone use along the border was highly prevalent as evidenced by U.S. interception of 150 drones carrying an estimated two metric tons of drugs; primarily marijuana, cocaine, and heroin.

All these crimes force us to think if all these are the vile act of the robots?, have they transgressed the law (actus reus)?, if it did than how a non-human autonomous machine will be put to trail in the court of law that was justified in killing a human in self-defence or the extent of preconceived malice? And what a lifetime prison sentence to a machine would mean that does not grow old, fall sick or miss its dear ones?

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