Robots can be killers too

THE number of robots killing humans could increase as independent machines became more common in factories around the world.

After a worker was killed this week by a robot at a factory in Germany, the University of Sussex's Dr Blay Whitby urged against blaming the robot.

Dr Whitby said current robotic technology was not yet at a level "where their decision-making allows us to treat them as blameworthy".

"This unfortunate accident is technically and morally comparable to a machine operator being crushed because he didn't use the safety guard," he said.

"In this case it's more complex and therefore more forgivable because 'the safety guard' was provided by computer software and he was in the process of setting it up."

Dr Whitby said there also needed to be more awareness of robotic technology and public scrutiny of the ethical issues involved as the world became more automated and decision-making was delegated to machines.

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