The Frankenstein Complex and Asimov’s Three Laws

Lee McCauley

Public fear will be the biggest hurdle for intelligent robots to overcome. Understanding society's long-standing fear of self-aware automatons should be a consideration within robotics labs, especially those specializing in fully autonomous humanoid robots. Isaac Asimov anticipated this fear and proposed the Three Laws of Robotics as a way to mollify it somewhat. This paper explores the "Frankenstein Complex" and current opinions from noted robotics researchers regarding the possible implementation of Asimov's Laws. It is clear from these unscientific responses why the Three Laws are impractical from a general sense even though the ethical issues involved are at the forefront of researchers' minds. The onus is, therefore, placed on the roboticists of today and the future to hold themselves to a standard similar to the Hippocratic Oath that preserves the spirit of Asimov's Laws.

Subjects: 17. Robotics; 9.4 Philosophical Foundations

Submitted: May 10, 2007

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