Network Access Authentication is essential to the Laws of Computers
The concept of mechanical devices that will do manual and menial labor can be traced back to Ancient Greece. Whether it’s an automaton by Hephaestus or Honda’s Asimo robot, they all have something in common, a human-written program that controls the machine’s behaviors and actions. In a 1942 short story “Runaround,” Isaac Asimov first introduced the “Three Laws of Robotics” that is accepted as gospel among roboticists. As recently as 2011, the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPRSC) and the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) of Great Britain jointly published a set of five ethical “principles for designers, builders and users of robots” that built off of Asimov’s laws. But what is a robot?
Robots are basically computers with mechanical appendages that give them some form of mobility. There seems to be no consensus on which machines actually qualify as a robot, but many designs seem to mimic humans or animals. While Isaac thought it necessary to write laws for a fictitious device and the EPRSC published their five laws, the “brain” controlling robots is left to total anarchy: The Computer. There needs to be Three Laws of Computers.
Computers, unlike robots, are all around us. They help in cooking our food, powering our homes, communicating around the world, and traveling to the far reaches of space. Young kids today are more adept with a mouse than a pencil. Computers are being used for good things like producing clean drinking water to terrible things like spinning uranium to create nuclear weapons. With all its uses, it seems odd that the founders of the computer age – Charles Babbage, Calvin Gotlieb, Michael Dell, Tom Watson, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Dr. Wang, Hewlett or Packard to name a few – never saw the need to write any Laws of Computers.
If robots are just mechanical extensions of computers, and a computer controls the robot’s actions, movements and tasks, then before one has laws on robotics shouldn’t there first be laws governing computers? Therefore, I have taken it upon myself to publish:
Dovell’s Three Laws of Computers.
Law #1: Computers must not, or allow other computers to, harm humans or other sentient life forms as they complete their series of commands (program) given to it.
Law #2: Computers must first positively authenticate the user, determine that user’s rights and privileges, and leave an accountability record before executing its programs.
Law #3: Computers must automatically learn, configure and remember how each human wants it to behave and then instantly recall that configuration every time that human accesses it.