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Robot future poses hard questions.

A very interesting read, and, shockingly enough, not more than 15-30 years away, if that. Interesting tidbit:

Autonomous robots are able to make decisions without human intervention. At a simple level, these can include robot vacuum cleaners that "decide" for themselves when to move from room to room or to head back to a base station to recharge.
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Military forces:

Increasingly, autonomous machines are being used in military applications, too.

Samsung, for example, has developed a robotic sentry to guard the border between North and South Korea.

It is equipped with two cameras and a machine gun.

The development and eventual deployment of autonomous robots raised difficult questions, said Professor Alan Winfield of the University of West England.

"If an autonomous robot kills someone, whose fault is it?" said Professor Winfield.

"Right now, that's not an issue because the responsibility lies with the designer or operator of that robot; but as robots become more autonomous that line or responsibility becomes blurred."

Professor Noel Sharkey, of the University of Sheffield, said there could be more problems when robots moved from military to civil duties.

"Imagine the miners strike with robots armed with water cannons," he said. "These things are coming, definitely."
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Robot rights:

The discussion paper was titled Utopian Dream or Rise of the Machines? It addressed issues such as the "rights" of robots, and examined developments in artificial intelligence and how this might impact on law and politics.

In particular, it predicted that robots could one day demand the same citizen's rights as humans, including housing and even "robo-healthcare".
 
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