Science fiction fans recognize Asimov’s prescient thoughts on robot programming, captured in his three laws of robotics. In Asimov’s sci-fi world, robots were all programmed to protect their humans (the first law), to obey their humans (the second law) and to protect themselves (the third law). These laws laid the foundation for many fantastic, futuristic stories and have long provided actionable concepts for today’s robots, including those we launch over our modern battlefields. As the stories advanced, he later added another law, called the “zeroth” law, which had priority over all the others, “A robot may not harm humanity, or, by inaction, allow humanity to come to harm.”
Experience, especially experience in cybersecurity, has opened our eyes to the need for another law of robotics. Our robots, including unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), are all designed to communicate continuously when operating, and, unfortunately, these communications have been shown to have vulnerabilities. Many UAVs operate with light or no protections on their internal systems or the communications they have with other systems in the air and on the ground.
The enduring challenges of cybersecurity and the need to include security in the design of our systems from the beginning means it is time for a new law, a fourth law, of robotics.
The new law of robotics is:
There will be no unauthorized access of any robot communications.
Read more about the need for this law and its implications at The Cyber Edge blog at AFCEA.