Boston Dynamics and other robot companies signed a pledge on Thursday not to weaponize their robots. This includes not encouraging others to use their robots as weapons that can harm humans. The other firms include ANYbotics, Clearpath Robotics, Agility Robotics, Open Robotics, and Unitree.
The robot makers wrote in the introduction of the pledge, “We are some of the world’s leading companies dedicated to introducing new generations of advanced mobile robotics to society. These new generations of robots are more accessible, easier to operate, more autonomous, affordable, and adaptable than previous generations, and capable of navigating into locations previously inaccessible to automated or remotely-controlled technologies.” They further added that their robots could be a great benefit to society. They could be used as co-workers in industry and companions in People’s homes. However, it is warned that there is a possibility of ill-usage of such technology in society.
They explained, “As with any new technology offering new capabilities, the emergence of advanced mobile robots offers the possibility of misuse. Untrustworthy people could use them to invade civil rights or to threaten, harm, or intimidate others. One area of particular concern is weaponization. We believe that adding weapons to robots that are remotely or autonomously operated, widely available to the public, and capable of navigating to previously inaccessible locations where people live and work, raises new risks of harm and serious ethical issues.”
Further continued to say that weaponized applications of these newly-capable robots will harm public trust for these reasons and more they do not support the weaponization of their advanced-mobility general-purpose robots. They added that, due to a number of people who have visibly publicized their makeshift efforts to weaponize commercially available robots, they felt an urgency to speak up now and pledge to secure their robots.
As stated by the companies, “We pledge that we will not weaponize our advanced-mobility general-purpose robots or the software we develop that enables advanced robotics and we will not support others to do so. When possible, we will carefully review our customers’ intended applications to avoid potential weaponization. We also pledge to explore the development of technological features that could mitigate or reduce these risks.”
Finally, the companies concluded their message by indicating that the benefits for humanity of robots strongly outweigh the risk of misuse, and humans and robots could work side by side to tackle some of the world’s challenges in the future.