Academics have put forward an argument that it is becoming more and more urgent to fit robots with the appropriate safety measures as their interaction with human beings increases every day. They have suggested that robots should be fitted with black boxes to monitor their movements and decisions. This measure will at least be able to help their makers diagnose their faultiness when accidents happen. This urgency has been created by the use of robots far from their typical roles in industries. Nowadays, they work side by side with human as security guards, customer assistants, or even driverless cars.
The scientists’ case to have the robots fitted with ‘ethical black boxes’ will be discussed further at the University of Surrey conference on robots. In this meeting, it is expected that both scientists and robot experts will have a discourse on the steps that have been taken to ensure that autonomous robots can work and make rational decisions without having to be monitored. The conference came in the wake of an incident where a robot had an accident as it was patrolling in Georgetown, Washington DC. The robot was guarding a riverside complex when it accidentally fell down the stairs and sunk into a fountain.
It is not always that accidents involving robots are casualty-free. A man was killed on the road after turning on an autopilot feature in his car. The car was unable to perceive a truck in front of its path and caused a fatal crash. Winfield and Marina Jirotka have been at the forefront of advocating for the fitting of black boxes in robots. The latter, a professor at the Oxford University, reckons that accidents involving robots will require investigation. However, this is impossible if there is no record whatsoever of the robots thinking patterns at the time of the accident. The fitting of black boxes will, hence, go along the way into also helping the robots explain their actions to humans in a straightforward language.