'This, of Course, Is Bad': A Chess Robot Accidentally Broke a 7-Year-Old's Finger

The chess robot rebellion has begun.
The chess robot rebellion has begun. / wonry/E+ via Getty Images

Science fiction author Isaac Asimov famously laid down a few rules for robots in his Three Laws of Robotics, including the fact they must obey humans, cannot hurt humans, and must protect themselves unless it violates the first two laws.

A chess-playing robot in Russia managed to break the first two rules, as well as a a child’s finger.

The incident happened during the Moscow Chess Open in Russia, where a 7-year-old named Christopher was pitted against a mechanical arm capable of moving chess pieces around the board. At one point, the robot became confused and sensed the child’s finger was one of the pieces. It grabbed the appendage and refused to let go, prompting adults to rush to the young player’s assistance.

The incident, which is not graphic, was captured on video:

Russian news outlet TASS reported that the robot was on loan for the tournament, with Sergey Lazarev, President of the Russian Chess Federation, quick to denounce the robot’s actions as well as any federation liability. “The robot broke the child's finger—this, of course, is bad,” he said. “The robot was rented by us, it has been exhibited in many places, for a long time, with specialists. Apparently, the operators overlooked it. The child made a move, and after that we need to give time for the robot to answer, but the boy hurried, the robot grabbed him. We have nothing to do with the robot.”

Lazarev, who had nothing to do with the robot, nothing at all, added that the Christopher’s parents were examining their legal options. The child was back at the tournament the following day, though likely not looking for a rematch.

[h/t Science Alert]