Sunday, June 28, 2015

Asimov's Laws of Robotics do not enable Human Agency

Reminding ourselves of Asimov's Laws:

A robot 
 - may not injure a human being or, through inaction,  allow a human being to come to harm. 
 - must obey orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the 1st Law. 
 - must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the 1st and 2nd Law.

It seems that a robot following the above laws receives no admonishment to obey it's owner.

Or does it? There maybe some that argue that the action of not obeying its owner could be seen to cause some sort of injury to the owner in question. Is distress an injury? This is rather a complex equation for a robot or the law to establish.

For the sake of clarity and simplicity perhaps an additional Law is required, to enable Agency;
What should it be?  Perhaps....

A robot :- 
 - may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm. 
 - must obey orders given by its master or master's agents, except where such orders would conflict with the 1st Law. 
 - must obey orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the 1st, or 2nd Laws.
 - must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the 1st, 2nd or 3rd Laws.

Such a formulation would add the concept of Human Agency to the Laws of Robotics.
The definition of Master will need to be carefully developed in Law, as it is likely that producers of robots will attempt to retain ownership of them.

Now all we need are four things
0) A human right to Cyber Agency, or simply and more generally a Right of Human Agency
1) Cyber Agency Awareness and Skills, and the desire to attain and maintain Cyber Agency
2) Ceremonies that unequivocally connects persons and things conferring ownership and Agency
     (Such ceremonies would have both legal & technical components)
3) The Laws, Technology and Ecosystems to enable 1 and 2, thus enabling 0

If we had these constructs in place, our ability to achieve Privacy and/or Transparency would be greatly enhanced. Sadly we have yet to even get to the Cyber Agency rights or first part of thing 1, namely Cyber Agency Awareness. We currently prefer to assume that the individuals who run Cyber Space are totally benign and have our personal interests at heart.  Hmmmm!

(While I was aware of the existence of the Zeroth Law, at first glance I felt that it served no purpose in this debate, though on second thoughts perhaps it does? Could we use Hybrid AI to run the COW? I created the concept of Cyber Over Watch in an earlier post? )

Friday, June 26, 2015

Agency requires recording and authentication of Intent or Accord

Those nine words represent a need that is very poorly delivered in today's world. I fear that while it is being less well delivered in Cyber Space, Things are going to make it far worse. In the current world our accord is often recorded by our signing and dating a document, and more recently scribbling onto the small screen of proffered device. Authentication is rarely if ever attempted. Repudiation is thus, in most cases, a trivial activity; "That isn't my signature/scribble".

Intentification, a neologism, describes the act or process of determining someone or something's intent.

In Cyber Space this is going to become more important, for in the near future our identity and location will be known to a very high degree of confidence. Our mere presence at the location where an event was triggered will likely be misused as proof our intent to trigger the event.

A current example are the pocket calls that we all have made. We should all be aware that having an International Phone Number as the number most likely to be used by our phones in such pocket calls can be a costly experience. Mobile phone operators quite happily bill us for such pocket calls, they do not care if we intended to make them or not.

The Law has addressed our ability to regain control of contracts signed remotely, the Consumer Credit Act gives us a cooling off period, but the act does not appear to address transactions under a previously agreed contract. "I did not switch on the Under Floor Heating over the summer, my Smart Home did!"

In the future Things will be able to trigger many more costly and perhaps more dangerous events, this may be as a result of accident, duress, mistake or malicious remote attack. If our presence at the point of the event being triggered is assumed to prove our intent or accord, we will be in trouble or out of pocket much more frequently than the current issue Out of Pocket calls. We seem to have accepted the lack of Intentification in pocket calls, will we continue to accept the lack of these authentication process.

Our Things will need to get much better at determining our intent and accord, as the frequency, danger and cost, of mistakenly determining our intent and accord increases this will become more a more evident need.

Trust and Safety requires an effective combination of the Identification and Intentification processes, we should not allow the continued oversimplification resulting from assuming that authenticating identity and location is all that is needed to record and authenticate our intent or accord.

This is actually quite an important Cyber Right that we have yet to acquire, mostly because an effective capability of authenticating intent or accord in Cyber Space has yet to be developed. Just as it has yet to be developed in the old paper based world, but remember repudiation is much harder in Cyber Space.

How are we to take control of our cyber space without this right and capability?


Friday, June 19, 2015

WiFi Access Fail O2

In a great pub on the Norfolk Boards I wanted to access the Web to give them a Trip Advisor review, one of my last Reviews as I have lost faith in Trip Advisor. Though that's another story.

The Wifi Hotspot was provided by O2, it popped up very easily asking me to sign in with my Mobile Phone Number, something that I really did not like!


But as there was no useable data signal anywhere close, I swallowed hard and signed up.


Then I waited for the SMS code to arrive. I use Giff Gaff which is O2 based.


Yep... you've got it there was no viable O2 signal in the pub, so I went outside and still no viable signal. I never did get connected.


Why!??! In this day and age!!! Why???