Robots

Someone Built A Robot That Intentionally Hurts Humans

Alexander Reben's "First Law" robot draws human blood autonomously

Robots
Alexander Reben, creator of an autonomous pain-inflicting robot, in 2014. — Getty Images for Engadget Expand
Jun 13, 2016 at 10:39 AM ET

Alexander Reben just went off and built a robot designed to intentionally hurt people—but his end goal is not to build a lethal ‘droid army, but to protect us from one.

Reben, who Gizmodo once called the “Willy Wonka of Robots,” has created a small robot whose sole purpose is to break what sci-fi novelist Isaac Asimov dubbed the first law of robotics: “A robot may not injure a human being, or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.”

The robot is a small arm with a needle attached. When someone places their finger in the target zone, the robot activates. Sometimes it does nothing. Sometimes it jabs the person’s finger. In this video, it goes with the latter, drawing blood.

According to FastCompany, Reben designed the robot to stab fingers “randomly,” which gives it an autonomy that other human-controlled robot means of destruction (think drones) don’t possess. Reben says he did this to take intentional human-harming robots out of the theoretical realm, forcing humans to “confront” their existence rather than “pontificate about” them.

The BBC reports that the robot cost Reben about $200 and a few days to make, but he “has no plans to exhibit or market it.” Which is a shame, since who wouldn’t want a robot-pet that’s quite literally out for blood?