K5's Experiential Robotics Goes Wrong

The war between robots and humans is heating up

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Dr Katina Michael is a professor in the School of Computing and Information Technology at the University of Wollongong. She considers the K5 to be a sinister development and has been following its progress since 2013. She’s notes how they look somewhat like the dreaded Daleks from Doctor Who – without the weaponised arm.

What are you meant to do? Take out your umbrella and start hitting it?
“If you see one coming toward you,’’ says Professor Michael, “what are you meant to do? Take out your umbrella and start hitting it?’’

At trade shows, she’s seen a K5 trip on a buckle in the carpeting and fall over. “The question is when they take a different form in the future…. When they can walk like a human. Then it becomes a different proposition. It doesn’t look so harmless. They’re more mobile. They can be tripped … but get up again.’’

She notes that K5 robots were first trialled by Microsoft and Uber. The Uber connection is significant because the ride-share outfit has disrupted the regulated taxi industry by baldly flouting the law. Surveillance robots are being launched upon us in much the same lawless way.

“It’s autonomous, gathers information and is capable of behavioural analysis. It’s a grave invasion of privacy. They are danger to society because they will develop awareness over time. For the first time we have an autonomous system that can follow humans.’’