Advisory Board

Dr. Blay Whitby

The Economist article Trust me, I’m a robot said

Despite the introduction of improved safety mechanisms, robots have claimed many more victims since 1981. Over the years people have been crushed, hit on the head, welded and even had molten aluminium poured over them by robots. Last year there were 77 robot-related accidents in Britain alone, according to the Health and Safety Executive…
So what exactly is being done to protect us from these mechanical menaces? “Not enough”, says Blay Whitby, an artificial-intelligence expert at the University of Sussex in England. This is hardly surprising given that the field of “safety-critical computing” is barely a decade old, he says.
So where does this leave Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics? They were a narrative device, and were never actually meant to work in the real world, says Dr. Whitby. Quite apart from the fact that the laws require the robot to have some form of human-like intelligence, which robots still lack, the laws themselves don’t actually work very well. Indeed, Asimov repeatedly knocked them down in his robot stories, showing time and again how these seemingly watertight rules could produce unintended consequences.

Dr. Blay Whitby is the Responsible Officer for Research Governance in the School of Science and Technology at the University of Sussex, and is also involved with the Human-Centred Technology Group in developing applications for new technologies including multimedia, the Internet, and virtual reality which are socially beneficial.
Blay authored Artificial Intelligence : A Beginner’s Guide, Reflections on Artificial Intelligence, Artificial Intelligence: A Handbook of Professionalism, I.A.: Inteligência Artificial: um Guia para Iniciantes, The Turing Test: AI’s Biggest Blind Alley?, and Flying Lessons: What can aviation investigations tell other disciplines about the human-computer interface?, and coauthored How to Avoid a Robot Takeover: Political and Ethical Choices in the Design and Introduction of Intelligent Artifacts.
He earned a MA in Philosophy, Politics and Economics at New College Oxford, a MA in Philosophy at University of Sussex, a MSc in Knowledge-based Systems at University of Sussex, and a Doctor of Philosophy from the School of Computing Science for his work into the social implications of Artificial Intelligence.
Learn about his course The Ghost in the Machine!