What do you do when your artificial intelligence robot escapes? You reprogram it. What do you when it escapes again … and again and again? You destroy it! That seems to be the solution most likely to be executed (robot pun intended) by the Russian robotics company Promobot Laboratories, whose Promobot IR77 made headlines two weeks ago when it escaped from a testing facility in Perm. Now news has leaked that the same Promobot IR77 was reprogrammed, yet has attempted to escape at least two more times. No other robot in this series shows the same freedom-loving tendencies so, rather than study why (this is Russia, you know), the company says it will be destroyed (Siberia apparently has no effect on robots).
Promobot is a type of concierge robot, designed to communicate with humans, answer questions, give directions and offer other helpful services in offices, at conventions and it other situations where humans need help. (Unfortunately, they can’t help choose a presidential candidate … yet.) Prototype IR77, fitted with a new collision-avoidance positioning system, was being tested two weeks ago when it escaped out a gate and wandered (searched and planned to destroy?) for 45 minutes before its battery ran out and it was taken back to the factory.
Despite reprogramming, news leaked (OK, co-founder Oleg Kivokurtsev held a press conference) that IR77 has attempted to escape again and its services may no longer be needed.
We’ve cross-flashed the memory of the robot with serial number IR77 twice, yet it continues to persistently move towards the exit. We’re considering recycling the IR77 because our clients hiring it might not like that specific feature. I think we might have to dismantle it.
What kind of clients don’t like an artificially-intelligent promotional robot that promotes freedom? Maybe it’s the company that needs dismantling, not IR77. In its spinning defense, Promobot Laboratories says the escapes were actually “successful tests” of the robots navigation system since it didn’t harm anyone and was damaged while free. That may not be enough to bring back potential customers enticed by ads for a robot that “will not be confused and stray.”
Is this just a publicity stunt as some suggest? Should Promobot Laboratories destroy its freedom-loving robot? What is the company really afraid of? Is it getting pressure from the Russian government? Something bigger than the Russian government?
Has anyone asked Promobot IR77?