Is a robot capable of committing suicide?
A robot working as a security guard in Washington, D.C., drowned itself by driving into a pool. Pictures from the Georgetown Waterfront shopping center and office complex where the robot works show staff members at an apparent loss trying to determine how best to fish the defunct robot out of the pool.
Robots were previously considered good in working as security guards, if not even better than their human counterparts, because they never get bored of what they do. Apparently, it’s not exactly true for the one that drowned itself. It wanted to put an end to its work and looked to the pond for its liberty.
A robot is supposed to understand its environment and can judge whether something is wrong using a combination of microphones, video cameras and other sensors. In the future, robots are expected to get other features like gun detection and artificial intelligence.
Should a robot detect something wrong, it can squeak, whistle and make other loud noises intended to prevent criminals and others from causing troubles.
The Knightscope security robot like the one that just drowned looks something like a rounded dalek. It is a cheap way to have a roving guard patrolling sensitive, public areas. It cost only $7 per hour to rent out, and has special skills including the ability to fight attack and not get bored. Robots of this type are a good alternative to people so that they may not have to carry out dull patrolling jobs.
The Knightscope robot has encountered several problems, however. Just earlier this year, it emerged that a drunken man had tried to assault one of the machines while it was out on patrol, and another had knocked over a poor toddler.
The company operating the robots said it was proud of its robot after the man’s assault for which he was arrested. The company’s spokesperson said: “The robot did exactly as it was suppose to do- the ‘assault’ was detected and immediately reported, the alarms on the robot sounded, and the suspect attempted to flee the scene and was detained by one of my colleagues and me until the Mpuntain View Police arrived.”
It is not clear, however, whether they would attribute the drowning to a fault with the robot itself as in a “desire” to end it all suggesting its own equivalent of a “suicide” or a mechanical error on its program or the way it was built.