Do Autonomous Robots Need a ‘Kill Switch’?

Plus, a high-tech Mayflower is preparing to make the historic journey of its namesake.

by / March 2017

Hard Reset:

Equipping robots with a “kill switch” is one recommendation a draft report submitted to the European Parliament’s legal affairs committee makes as the government seeks ways to prepare for potential dangers related to autonomous robotics. The report, which begins with a reference to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, identifies possible ways to address legal and ethical issues that may develop as advancements are made to autonomous artificial intelligences. These include the creation of a European agency for robotics and artificial intelligence, and an insurance system for robotics that places the obligation on the producer similarly to how car insurance covers the actions of the driver.
Source: New Atlas


21st-Century Pilgrimage:

A high-tech Mayflower is preparing to make the historic journey of its namesake. Fueled by sail power and renewable energy, the 104-foot Mayflower Autonomous Research Ship (pictured above) will sail from Plymouth, England, to Plymouth, Mass., in 2020 to mark the 400th anniversary of the original trip. The ship will include a fleet of drones to conduct research experiments, while also collecting data — oceanographic, meteorological and climate — and testing new navigation systems along the way.
Source: TreeHugger.com

“Given the vital role elections play in this country, it is clear that certain systems and assets of election infrastructure meet the definition of critical infrastructure, in fact and in law.” — Former Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson

Election infrastructure was given a new label in January — that of critical infrastructure. Designated by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security as a subsector of the government facilities critical infrastructure sector, the change makes cybersecurity assistance and protections of election systems and facilities a priority for the federal agency. The DHS considers election infrastructure to be information and communications technology, including voter registration databases and voting machines, as well as storage facilities, polling places and locations used to support the election process. In total, there are 16 critical infrastructure sectors and 20 subsectors that can receive this prioritized cybersecurity assistance. 
Source: The Atlantic

35 Million ...

articles were run through an automated analysis by a team of artificial intelligence researchers at the University of Bristol to determine if major historical and cultural changes could be detected in the content of local British newspapers printed from 1800 to 1950. The big data project used artificial intelligence to identify people and their gender or locations and plotted them on a map. While some of the results were expected, those acted as a check for the system, which determined historical details like trains becoming more popular than horses for transportation in 1902 and that liberals were mentioned more frequently than conservatives until the 1930s.
Source: University of Bristol

 
See more features from the March 2017 issue.

Elaine Pittman Former Managing Editor

Elaine Pittman worked for Government Technology from 2008 to 2017.