By Vladimir Murashov, PhD; Frank Hearl, PE; and John Howard, M.D.
Robots are used in increasing numbers in the workplace and in society in general. As their numbers and capabilities increase, observers have urged that scientists, engineers, and policymakers explore the implications of robotics for society, to ensure that the rise of robots will not spell “doom for humanity” as some critics have warned . To avoid this scenario, in 1942 Isaac Asimov set out three laws of robotics in his short story “Runaround”. The first law of robotics centered on the safety of people states: “A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.” How well has this law been applied to worker safety as robots take on more tasks in the 21st century workplace and become robot workers? Judging from continuing headlines about workers injured or killed by robots, not sufficiently.