The Day That Robots Drew First Blood

Humankind will never forget! David Kravets writes in Wired (there’s a uncanny coincidence in the article):

January 25, 1979: A 25-year-old Ford Motor assembly line worker is killed on the job in a Flat Rock, Michigan, casting plant. It’s the first recorded human death by robot.

Robert Williams’ death came on the 58th anniversary of the premiere of Karel Capek’s play about Rossum’s Universal Robots. R.U.R. gave the world the first use of the word robot to describe an artificial person. Capek invented the term, basing it on the Czech word for “forced labor.” (Robot entered the English language in 1923.)

Williams died instantly in 1979 when the robot’s arm slammed him as he was gathering parts in a storage facility, where the robot also retrieved parts. Williams’ family was later awarded $10 million in damages. The jury agreed the robot struck him in the head because of a lack of safety measures, including one that would sound an alarm if the robot was near.

Thanks in large part to the industrial assembly line, the robot has become commonplace in today’s world. But unlike the one that killed Williams, today’s robots vacuum floors, blow up landmines, rove on Mars, harvest fruit, may soon care for the elderly and are already largely responsible for producing printed circuit boards.

Read More in Wired

2 Comments on "The Day That Robots Drew First Blood"

  1. Anonymous | Feb 2, 2010 at 11:31 pm |

    Robots cannot be trusted.

  2. odysseas | Feb 2, 2010 at 6:31 pm |

    Robots cannot be trusted.

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