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Watch: A Robot Refusing An Order


Researchers at Tufts University Human-Robot Interaction Lab are working on an issue that has been troubling science fiction fans for decades: when can (and should) a robot say no?

Robots performing instructions precisely according to what they are programmed and ordered to do seems an obvious requirement – what use is a robot that behaves unexpectedly or one that doesn’t do what it’s made to? But following instructions unquestioningly could in itself pose serious risks to human lives.

Imagine a robot – twice the size of an average man, hurtling down the street at the behest of its owner, completely disregarding the safety of bystanders. Or, a robot following orders to knock down a building without taking into account the people that could still be inside. No, when robots finally



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