The fictional theme of robots turning against humans is older than the word itself, which first appeared in the title of Karel apeks 1920 play about artificial factory workers rising against their human overlords. Just 22 years later, Isaac Asimov invented the Three Laws of Robotics to serve as a hierarchical ethical code for the robots in his stories: first, never harm a human being through action or inaction; Machines are increasingly operating with minimal human oversight in the same physical spaces as we do. The prospect of machines capable of following moral principles, let alone understanding them, seems as remote today as the word robot is old. The techno-optimists among them also believe that such machines will be essentially friendly to human beings.
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