In many factories utilizing robots, there are sure “kill” or “danger” zones where people are not allowed to enter.

In the United States, about one person falls victim to an industrial robot yearly, and the Department of Labor maintains a record of such incidents.

In 2021 alone, there were two instances: one at Ford Motor Company and another at Columbia Okura.

In each case, an employee was entangled or caught between the parts of a working industrial robot and killed.

The first recorded case of human death inflicted by an industrial robot happened in 1979 when a robotic arm crushed Robert Williams in a Ford manufacturing facility in Michigan.

One of the latest examples of an industrial robot causing harm to a person did not take place in a high-tech factory but in an otherwise serene arena of a chess tournament in Moscow, Russia.

The victim was a child player named Christopher, whose finger was pinched and fractured by his robotic opponent during a chess game.

Despite the incident, tournament officials had no statement about the possibility of dismantling the robot.

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10 /10 Chess Robot

The accurate benchmark of artificial intelligence is human behavior. The future is already here if a robot can think, behave, and make decisions like a person.

Humans and robots have long been compared in almost every aspect of cognition. One of the most frequently used proving grounds is a chess game.

In 1997, a supercomputer made by IBM – nicknamed Deep Blue – reached a level advanced enough to defeat Gary Kasparov.

More than 25 years later, another robot struck the 2022 Moscow Open.

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9 /10 Physical Blow

The robot made headlines for an entirely different reason from what made Deep Blue famous.

As a starter, the game was played between a robot and a child, one of Russia’s under-nine Top 30 chess players.

More importantly, the headlines were not actually about the game itself or who won the match but a strange thing that happened during the play.

The robot grabbed an opponent’s finger and fractured it. For sure, such a physical attack was an illegal chess move.






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8 /10 A Large Gripper

Deep Blue comprises two racks of hardware configuration with 30 PowerPC processors and custom chips designed for chess games against Gary Kasparov.

The form factor is like any typical personal computer but much more significant and better at chess.

On the other hand, the artificial intelligence in the 2022 Moscow Open has a robotic arm to move pieces on the board.

The component essentially is a mechanical gripper. At some point in the game, it might see the boy’s finger as a chess piece.

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7 /10 Quick Countermove

Footage of the unfortunate incident showed that the robotic arm was playing against three children simultaneously.

When the boy made his quick countermove, the robot had just finished taking a kid’s piece from the board.

Whether a glitch or part of the program, the AI didn’t seem to like the idea of an immediate response.

The robotic arm unexpectedly grabbed the opponent’s finger. Some adults in the audience rushed forward to help the boy. By then, the finger had already fractured.

6 /10 Plaster Cast

While it was not a severe injury, the pain must have been unbearable. Even an adult probably would have screamed if one of their fingers had been crushed.

Despite the incident, the tournament continued, and the boy was able to play the next day with his fractured finger in a plaster cast.

According to Sergey Lazarev, the president of the Moscow Chess Federation, the robot belonged to a third-party provider, and it grabbed the boy’s finger in response to a hurried chess move.

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5 /10 Coincidence

Sergey Smagin, the vice president of the Russian Chess Federation, reiterated Lazarev’s statement.

He said something to the effect of the robot not being sophisticated enough to compute an immediate countermove by an opponent.

The robot was in the middle of completing a move when the boy made a response, and it appeared the robot had no idea how to react in such a situation.

Some would say it was only trying to ensure that a particular move was completed before another followed.

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4 /10 Rare Case

Sergey Karjakin, a Russian chess prodigy and grandmaster, said the incident had never happened before and was likely triggered by a software error.

Smagin maintained the robot was “safe,” and the mishap was rare.

The vice president of the federation was persistent that the boy should have followed a simple rule of taking a turn in moving the pieces.

Until then, there was still no discussion on whether the robot would continue its service for any upcoming chess tournament.

Based on the statements by the officials, the robot was not entirely guilty of the accident.

3 /10 Demand Is High

For some reason, perhaps over-excitement, the boy moved his hand above the board before the robot ended its turn.

Smagin was sure it would not likely happen again in the future.

As it turned out, the demand for the robot has seen a steady increase, so the company, at this point, has no plan to dismantle the product.

The hardware configuration is not to blame, but the programming might need more tweaking to fix the glitch and prevent another incident.

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2 /10 A Veteran Player

The same robot has played in professional tournaments for over 15 years. By human standards, such an experience would make the AI a seasoned player.

As for the boy’s parents, Lazarev suggested they consult with an attorney regarding the accident.

Whether a software error or other causes triggered the incident, it was clear that the boy suffered an injury.

He was a victim; his sufferings and loss should be compensated for.

Since the federation does not own the robot, the operator or manufacturer could be found responsible.

1 /10 Peaceful Settlement

The parents are still weighing the option of filing a lawsuit against the federation, the robot, or any party whose decisions ultimately led to the accident.

Any parent would have done the same, considering the circumstances. Lazarev already mentioned the federation was willing to settle the dispute peacefully.

He also planned to discuss the issue with the robot’s operators and owners about safety features.

According to Smagin, additional safety measures are necessary when the robot is in a match against children.

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