When humans think about the threats robots pose, we usually worry about them taking our jobs. Rarely do we consider the often-fatal accidents and disasters caused by machines. As robotic science progresses, humankind will be forced to answer important questions: Are robots responsible for their actions? What will our relationship with robots become as artificial intelligence develops? And if scientists put all that work into Sophia, why didn't they build her a scalp?
Incidents of robots causing major accidents make us think about the moral implications of technological growth. Machines as big as self-driving cars and as small as cellphones have caused serious harm to their human users.
When Samsung released the faulty Galaxy Note 7 to compete with Apple's iPhone, it nearly sank the company. Just a few weeks before the US release in August 2016, users in South Korea reported their phones were catching fire and in some cases exploding. The potentially dangerous mistake cost Samsung $26 billion in stock.
The US issued a recall of the Note 7 in September 2016 and again in October 2016 when Samsung sent out replacement units that had the same issue.
One of the first deaths by self-driving car occurred in March 2018. A car owned by Uber struck and killed a female pedestrian. The self-driving system detected a human six seconds before the crash, but didn't take action to prevent the collision.
The car had an emergency braking system, but it was turned off to prevent "erratic driving." Engineers failed, however, to program the car to alert the operator to brake.
Although robotic surgeries have many benefits - such as the ability to make smaller incisions that lead to expedited recovery times - 144 deaths have been linked to the procedures over a 14-year period in the United States.
The machines have reportedly dropped surgical tools into patients' bodies and singed tissue with electrical sparks. Many of the deaths, however, may be related to complications and risks that naturally occur during surgery.
A 22-year-old working at a Volkswagen factory in Germany in 2015 sustained fatal injuries when a robotic arm crushed his chest.
The robot was part of an assembly line that can function without a human controlling it, but it's unclear if it was operating on its own at the time of the incident.