Ethics robotics

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his decade has undergone a true robotic demo- could not be foreseen during the design of the robots. In our graphic explosion. The number of industrial survey, we limit ourselves to presenting the ethical issues robots in operation exceeded 1 million by the delineated by other authors and relay their lines of reasoning end of 2008. Sales of robots for personal and for raising the public’sconcerns. We show that disagreedomestic purposes have increased significantly ments on what is ethical or not in robotics stem often from since 2000 and reached 7.2 million by the end of 2009 [41]. different beliefs on human nature and different expectations The rampant growth of service robots on what technology may achieve in the led to rethink about the role of robots future. We do not offer apersonal stance • to these issues, so as to allow the reader within the human society. Robots are By Pawel Łichocki, no longer slave machines that respond to form his/her opinion. Peter H. Kahn, Jr., and Aude Billard purely to human requests. They are In terms of robotic applications, we warranted for some degree of autonomy focus on service robots that peacefully and decision making. Some, even,envision-friendly and interact with humans [Figure 1(a) and (b)] and lethal entertaining robots that may become our companions. As robots created to fight on battlefields [Figure 1(c) and (d)]. a result of this recent robot emancipation, a number of Other robotic applications are also discussed in the literaethical issues have emerged that were not relevant before. ture; therefore, various concerns forour societies are not We believe that a lively and engaged discussion of ethical discussed here. Unfortunately, for space constraints, we issues in robotics by roboticists and others is essential for had to limit ourselves in our presentation. For instance, creating a better and more just world. we omitted the question of unemployment caused by the In this article, we highlight the possiblebenefits, as well development of industrial robots. This concern is in line potential threats, related to the widespread use of robots. with the general issue of using machines to replace human We follow the view that a robot cannot be analyzed on its own labor, a topic that is central to philosophical debates since without taking into consideration the complex sociotechnical the industrial revolution.Furthermore, we chose not to nexus of today’s societies and that high-tech devices, such discuss the concerns that robots may one day be able to as robots, may influence how societies develop in ways that claim some social, cultural, ethical, or legal rights, that

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Bringing Ethics into the Design and Use of Robots

Digital Object Identifier 10.1109/MRA.2011.940275 Date of publication: 14April 2011

1070-9932/11/$26.00ª2011 IEEE

MARCH 2011



© PHOTODISC

IEEE ROBOTICS & AUTOMATION MAGAZINE



39

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Figure 1. Robotic applications of (a), (b) service and (c), (d) combat robots. (a) Childcare robot PaPeRo [32], [73]. [Photo courtesy of NEC Corporation.] (b) Paro therapeutic robot [89]. [Photo courtesy of AIST, Japan.] (c) MQ-9 ReaperHunter/Killer UAV by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems [33]. (d) Special weapons observation reconnaissance detection system (SWORDS) by Foster-Miller [42]. [Photo courtesy of Foster-Miller.]

robots may become sentient machines [51], which we would no longer be allowed to enslave [75], or that we may create robots capable of annihilating mankind [17]. For a discussion on these issues, we referthe reader to [56], [75], and [17]. Who or What Is Responsible When Robots Harm? Veruggio [100], [102] dates the beginning of “roboethics” from two events. One was the Fukuoka World Robot Declaration, wherein it was stated that “next generation robots will contribute to the realization of a safe and

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Figure 2. (a) The responsibility-ascription problem, i.e.,...
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