The line between robots and humans has been blurring ever so swiftly, and now the arrest of a robot in a political rally in Russia has further raised questions about the borders and rules which separate humankind from the technology.
According to media reports, the Promobot was apprehended by the police because the robot was allegedly participating in an activist rally in support of Russian parliamentary candidate Valery Kalachev in Moscow.
Adding to the bizarre situation is the fact that this is the same model of robot that previously tried to escape twice from its manufacturer.
According to the company, with the same name Promobot, the robot was busy “recording voters’ opinions on [a] variety of topics for further processing and analysis by the candidate’s team”, and they believe that the arrest was a result of a misunderstanding of robot’s intentions.
“Police asked to remove the robot away from the crowded area, and even tried to handcuff him. According to eyewitnesses, the robot did not put up any resistance”, the company further added.
There are reports that the arrest was made due to some protestors deeming the actions of the robot “unauthorised” and thus alerting the police about them. If it indeed was unauthorised, then it means the arrest was largely the result of human error and more of a legal technicality.
The same robot has been “popular” for creating problems in the past as well. The model made headlines across the globe after it was found trying to escape its home – a research facility in Perm, Russia – twice in one month even after its creators reconfigured its algorithms.
“We’ve cross-flashed the memory of the robot with serial number IR77 twice, yet it continues to persistently move towards the exit. We’re considering recycling the IR77 because our clients hiring it might not like that specific feature.” Promobot co-founder Oleg Kivokurtsev said at the time.
Whatever the outcome of the ongoing investigation might be, the incident does raise some questions about the establishment of laws for the protection of robots and humans alike.
Robots have been involved in injuring and killing people in the recent past, along with being used in artificial intelligence, warfare, on the road, and operating in society at large .This scenario creates an urgent need to devise a protocol for the peaceful coexistence of robots and humans.
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