Robot rules

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The city of Coeur d'Alene will consider moving forward with a new ordinance to regulate interactions between robots and humans on public and city property. The law is loosely based on science fiction writer Isaac Asimov's "Three Laws of Robotics."

Below are highlights of Asimov's laws and the city's draft ordinance:

Asimov's three laws are short and to the point:

1) A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.

2) A robot must obey the orders given to it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.

3) A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

He later added what has become known as the "zeroth law:"

0) A robot may not harm humanity, or, by inaction, allow humanity to come to harm.

The city's draft ordinance that goes before the council tonight is little more detailed and contains an exemption for police robots, but there are definitely similarities. Here are some highlights of the draft ordinance:

1) A robot must not harm human beings, other living creatures or property, or, by inaction, allow human beings, other living creatures or property to come to harm.

2) A robot must not injure a human being, other living creatures or property, or, through inaction, allow a human being, other living creature or property to come to harm.

3) A robot must not carry weapons, attack living creatures or cause damage to personal or real property.

4) Humans may not intentionally interfere with or harm a robot unless the robot poses a reasonable threat of causing harm to any living creature or damage to personal or real property.

5) Robots may not photograph or record, in any manner, any human being on private property or any private property without the express consent of the human being(s) or the owner(s) of the property.

There is also a licensing requirement:

1) All robots weighing 100 pounds or more or any robot operating on public property must be licensed with the city of Coeur d'Alene City Clerk and a license fee paid. The license fee shall be set by City Council by resolution.

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