Anyone familiar with the Terminator
movies has an idea of the dangers of intelligent machines running amok. But as scientists develop ever more autonomous robots, such warnings are moving from speculation to reality very quickly.
Samsung, for example, has developed an armed robotic sentry for use in patrolling the tense border between North and South Korea. Such military applications alarm robotic ethicists, who suggest that society is not ready to confront the consequences of autonomous robots designed to kill. They are also concerned about the growing use of robots to care for the elderly, particularly in Japan. Is society, they ask, truly ready to entrust its most frail members to these machines, particularly since our experience with them is relatively limited? Or, could an automated, autonomous nursing home prove to be a "dumping ground" for those whose care is too inconvenient?