Robot Ethics

Edited by Vincent C. Müller (University of Leeds, Anatolia College/ACT)
About this topic
Summary Robot ethics concerns the ethical problems raised by the use of robots, as well as the ethical status of the robots themselves and the attempt to make them ethical (the latter is often called "machine ethics"). On PhilPapers, the long-term risk for humanity from AI and robotics is under "Ethics of Artificial Intelligence" and "Artificial Intelligence Safety".
Key works A classic discussion is Wallach & Allen 2008 and a recent textbook is Tzafestas 2016. Some papers are in Lin et al 2011, Veruggio et al 2011 (earlier in Capurro & Nagenborg 2009). Classic problems are the use of robots in war (see Di Nucci & Santoni de Sio 2016) and in healthcare, the responsibility for their actions, the need for adjustment of human ethical and legal norms to robotics and the overall impact on humanity. - Some sources on the field on
Introductions Consult the short paper Asaro 2006 and the introductions in Lin et al 2011, Veruggio et al 2011 and Capurro & Nagenborg 2009. (Also the collection Capurro manuscript.)
Related categories

204 found
1 — 50 / 204
  1. Humanoid Robots: A New Kind of Tool.Bryan Adams, Cynthia Breazeal, Rodney Brooks & Brian Scassellati - 2000 - IEEE Intelligent Systems 15 (4):25-31.
    In his 1923 play R.U.R.: Rossum s Universal Robots, Karel Capek coined In 1993, we began a humanoid robotics project aimed at constructing a robot for use in exploring theories of human intelligence. In this article, we describe three aspects of our research methodology that distinguish our work from other humanoid projects. First, our humanoid robots are designed to act autonomously and safely in natural workspaces with people. Second, our robots are designed to interact socially with people by exploiting natural (...)
  2. When a Robot is Social.M. Alac, J. Movellan & F. Tanaka - 2013 - Avant: Trends in Interdisciplinary Studies 4 (1):133-177.
  3. Arms Control for Armed Uninhabited Vehicles: An Ethical Issue.Jürgen Altmann - 2013 - Ethics and Information Technology 15 (2):137-152.
    Arming uninhabited vehicles (UVs) is an increasing trend. Widespread deployment can bring dangers for arms-control agreements and international humanitarian law (IHL). Armed UVs can destabilise the situation between potential opponents. Smaller systems can be used for terrorism. Using a systematic definition existing international regulation of armed UVs in the fields of arms control, export control and transparency measures is reviewed; these partly include armed UVs, but leave large gaps. For preventive arms control a general prohibition of armed UVs would be (...)
  4. Armed Military Robots: Editorial.Jürgen Altmann, Peter Asaro, Noel Sharkey & Robert Sparrow - 2013 - Ethics and Information Technology 15 (2):73-76.
  5. Once People Understand That Machine Ethics is Concerned with How Intelligent Machines Should Behave, They Often Maintain That Isaac Asimov has Already Given Us an Ideal Set of Rules for Such Machines. They Have in Mind Asimov's Three Laws of Robotics: 1. A Robot May Not Injure a Human Being, or, Through Inaction, Allow a Human.Susan Leigh Anderson - 2011 - In M. Anderson S. Anderson (ed.), Machine Ethics. Cambridge Univ. Press.
  6. Asimov's “Three Laws of Robotics” and Machine Metaethics.Susan Leigh Anderson - 2008 - AI and Society 22 (4):477-493.
    Using Asimov’s “Bicentennial Man” as a springboard, a number of metaethical issues concerning the emerging field of machine ethics are discussed. Although the ultimate goal of machine ethics is to create autonomous ethical machines, this presents a number of challenges. A good way to begin the task of making ethics computable is to create a program that enables a machine to act an ethical advisor to human beings. This project, unlike creating an autonomous ethical machine, will not require that we (...)
  7. Beware the Passionate Robot.Michael A. Arbib - 2004 - In J. Fellous (ed.), Who Needs Emotions. Oxford University Press.
  8. The Robot Didn't Do It: A Position Paper for the Workshop on Anticipatory Ethics, Responsibility and Artificial Agents.Ronald C. Arkin - 2013 - Workshop on Anticipatory Ethics, Responsibility and Artificial Agents 2013.
    This position paper addresses the issue of responsibility in the use of autonomous robotic systems. We are nowhere near autonomy in the philosophical sense, i.e., where there exists free agency and moral culpability for a non-human artificial agent. Sentient robots and the singularity are not concerns in the near to mid-term. While agents such as corporations can be held legally responsible for their actions, these exist of organizations under the direct control of humans. Intelligent robots, by virtue of their autonomous (...)
  9. The Case for Ethical Autonomy in Unmanned Systems.Ronald C. Arkin - 2010 - Journal of Military Ethics 9 (4):332-341.
    The underlying thesis of the research in ethical autonomy for lethal autonomous unmanned systems is that they will potentially be capable of performing more ethically on the battlefield than are human soldiers. In this article this hypothesis is supported by ongoing and foreseen technological advances and perhaps equally important by an assessment of the fundamental ability of human warfighters in today's battlespace. If this goal of better-than-human performance is achieved, even if still imperfect, it can result in a reduction in (...)
  10. Governing Lethal Behavior in Autonomous Robots.Ronald C. Arkin - 2009 - .
  11. Robot Ethics.Ronald C. Arkin - 2002 - Ethics and Information Technology 4 (4):305-318.
  12. Reactive Robotic Systems.Ronald C. Arkin - 1995 - In Michael A. Arbib (ed.), Handbook of Brain Theory and Neural Networks. MIT Press. pp. 793--796.
  13. The Robot: The Life Story of a Technology. [REVIEW]Peter Asaro - 2009 - Isis: A Journal of the History of Science 100:890-891.
  14. How Just Could a Robot War Be?Peter Asaro - 2008 - In P. Brey, A. Briggle & K. Waelbers (eds.), Current Issues in Computing and Philosophy. Ios Press. pp. 50--64.
  15. What Should We Want From a Robot Ethic.Peter M. Asaro - 2006 - International Review of Information Ethics 6 (12):9-16.
    There are at least three things we might mean by "ethics in robotics": the ethical systems built into robots, the ethics of people who design and use robots, and the ethics of how people treat robots. This paper argues that the best approach to robot ethics is one which addresses all three of these, and to do this it ought to consider robots as socio-technical systems. By so doing, it is possible to think of a continuum of agency that lies (...)
  16. AIonAI: A Humanitarian Law of Artificial Intelligence and Robotics.Hutan Ashrafian - 2015 - Science and Engineering Ethics 21 (1):29-40.
    The enduring progression of artificial intelligence and cybernetics offers an ever-closer possibility of rational and sentient robots. The ethics and morals deriving from this technological prospect have been considered in the philosophy of artificial intelligence, the design of automatons with roboethics and the contemplation of machine ethics through the concept of artificial moral agents. Across these categories, the robotics laws first proposed by Isaac Asimov in the twentieth century remain well-recognised and esteemed due to their specification of preventing human harm, (...)
  17. Artificial Intelligence and Robot Responsibilities: Innovating Beyond Rights.Hutan Ashrafian - 2015 - Science and Engineering Ethics 21 (2):317-326.
    The enduring innovations in artificial intelligence and robotics offer the promised capacity of computer consciousness, sentience and rationality. The development of these advanced technologies have been considered to merit rights, however these can only be ascribed in the context of commensurate responsibilities and duties. This represents the discernable next-step for evolution in this field. Addressing these needs requires attention to the philosophical perspectives of moral responsibility for artificial intelligence and robotics. A contrast to the moral status of animals may be (...)
  18. Basic Issues of Ethics in Robotics.Fiorella Battaglia - 2014 - In Roboethics in Film. Pup.
  19. Roboethics in Film.Fiorella Battaglia & Natalie Weidenfeld (eds.) - 2014 - Pisa University Press.
  20. What Can A Robot Teach Us About Kantian Ethics?," in Process".Anthony F. Beavers - unknown
    In this paper, I examine a variety of agents that appear in Kantian ethics in order to determine which would be necessary to make a robot a genuine moral agent. However, building such an agent would require that we structure into a robot’s behavioral repertoire the possibility for immoral behavior, for only then can the moral law, according to Kant, manifest itself as an ought, a prerequisite for being able to hold an agent morally accountable for its actions. Since building (...)
  21. Moral Machines and the Threat of Ethical Nihilism.Anthony F. Beavers - 2011 - In Patrick Lin, George Bekey & Keith Abney (eds.), Robot Ethics: The Ethical and Social Implication of Robotics.
    In his famous 1950 paper where he presents what became the benchmark for success in artificial intelligence, Turing notes that "at the end of the century the use of words and general educated opinion will have altered so much that one will be able to speak of machines thinking without expecting to be contradicted" (Turing 1950, 442). Kurzweil (1990) suggests that Turing's prediction was correct, even if no machine has yet to pass the Turing Test. In the wake of the (...)
  22. Between Angels and Animals: The Question of Robot Ethics, or is Kantian Moral Agency Desirable?Anthony F. Beavers - unknown
    In this paper, I examine a variety of agents that appear in Kantian ethics in order to determine which would be necessary to make a robot a genuine moral agent. However, building such an agent would require that we structure into a robot’s behavioral repertoire the possibility for immoral behavior, for only then can the moral law, according to Kant, manifest itself as an ought, a prerequisite for being able to hold an agent morally accountable for its actions. Since building (...)
  23. The Problem of Ascribing Legal Responsibility in the Case of Robotics.Susanne Beck - 2016 - AI and Society 31 (4):473-481.
  24. Time Will Tell Why It is Too Early to Worry. [REVIEW]Tony Belpaeme & Anthony Morse - 2010 - Interaction Studies 11 (2):191-195.
    The author reflects on the premature speculations of many commentators on robot caregivers. He argues on the commentator's ethical issues that it creates false beliefs in children, in which he says that the creation of false beliefs by their caretakers is part and parcel of childhood. He argues that societies are already delegated the childcare onto others such as school and since technology is often substituting for direct physical social contact, its time to embrace the robotic care.
  25. Considerations About the Relationship Between Animal and Machine Ethics.Oliver Bendel - 2016 - AI and Society 31 (1):103-108.
  26. Droit de la robotique: Livre blanc.Alain Bensoussan & Renaud Champion - 2016 - SYMOP.
    Histoire et utilisation du robot Bien que la robotique soit un marché économique relativement jeune et en pleine croissance, la genèse des robots remonte à l’Antiquité. Le premier robot à être déployé sur des lignes d’assemblage est Unimate, utilisé dès 1961 par General Motors. La robotique, en se di usant dans tous les pans de notre économie, va impacter les business modèles de nombreuses industries comme l’automobile et l’aéronautique mais aussi la construction ou l’agriculture. Aujourd’hui les robots industriels et de (...)
  27. Working with a Robot: Exploring Relationship Potential in Human–Robot Systems.Debra Bernstein, Kevin Crowley & Illah Nourbakhsh - 2007 - Interaction Studiesinteraction Studies Social Behaviour and Communication in Biological and Artificial Systems 8 (3):465-482.
  28. Intelligent Agents in Military, Defense and Warfare: Ethical Issues and Concerns.Mr Sahon Bhattacharyya - unknown
    Due to tremendous progress in digital electronics now intelligent and autonomous agents are gradually being adopted into the fields and domains of the military, defense and warfare. This paper tries to explore some of the inherent ethical issues, threats and some remedial issues about the impact of such systems on human civilization and existence in general. This paper discusses human ethics in contrast to machine ethics and the problems caused by non-sentient agents. A systematic study is made on paradoxes regarding (...)
  29. Autonomous Weapons Systems: Law, Ethics, Policy.Nehal Bhuta, Susanne Beck, Robin Geiss, Hin-Yan Liu & Claus Kress (eds.) - 2016 - Cambridge University Press.
    The intense and polemical debate over the legality and morality of weapons systems to which human cognitive functions are delegated (up to and including the capacity to select targets and release weapons without further human intervention) addresses a phenomena which does not yet exist but which is widely claimed to be emergent. This groundbreaking collection combines contributions from roboticists, legal scholars, philosophers and sociologists of science in order to recast the debate in a manner that clarifies key areas and articulates (...)
  30. Robots and Reality: A Reply to Robert Sparrow.Russell Blackford - 2012 - Ethics and Information Technology 14 (1):41-51.
    We commonly identify something seriously defective in a human life that is lived in ignorance of important but unpalatable truths. At the same time, some degree of misapprehension of reality may be necessary for individual health and success. Morally speaking, it is unclear just how insistent we should be about seeking the truth. Robert Sparrow has considered such issues in discussing the manufacture and marketing of robot ‘pets’, such as Sony’s doglike ‘AIBO’ toy and whatever more advanced devices may supersede (...)
  31. Robotic Nudges: The Ethics of Engineering a More Socially Just Human Being.Jason Borenstein & Ron Arkin - 2016 - Science and Engineering Ethics 22 (1):31-46.
    Robots are becoming an increasingly pervasive feature of our personal lives. As a result, there is growing importance placed on examining what constitutes appropriate behavior when they interact with human beings. In this paper, we discuss whether companion robots should be permitted to “nudge” their human users in the direction of being “more ethical”. More specifically, we use Rawlsian principles of justice to illustrate how robots might nurture “socially just” tendencies in their human counterparts. Designing technological artifacts in such a (...)
  32. Rethinking the Criterion for Assessing Cia-Targeted Killings: Drones, Proportionality and Jus Ad Vim.Megan Braun & Daniel R. Brunstetter - 2013 - Journal of Military Ethics 12 (4):304-324.
  33. Robot Emotions: A Functional Perspective.C. Breazeal & Rodney Brooks - 2004 - In J. Fellous (ed.), Who Needs Emotions. Oxford University Press.
  34. Ethical Robots: The Future Can Heed Us. [REVIEW]Selmer Bringsjord - 2007 - AI and Society 22 (4):539-550.
    Bill Joy’s deep pessimism is now famous. Why the Future Doesn’t Need Us, his defense of that pessimism, has been read by, it seems, everyone—and many of these readers, apparently, have been converted to the dark side, or rather more accurately, to the future-is-dark side. Fortunately (for us; unfortunately for Joy), the defense, at least the part of it that pertains to AI and robotics, fails. Ours may be a dark future, but we cannot know that on the basis of (...)
  35. Why Robot Nannies Probably Won't Do Much Psychological Damage.Joanna J. Bryson - 2010 - Interaction Studies 11 (2):196-200.
  36. R.U.R. - Rossum’s Universal Robots.Karel Čapek - 1920 - Aventinum.
    The play begins in a factory that makes artificial people, called roboti (robots), from synthetic organic matter. They seem happy to work for humans at first, but that changes, and a hostile robot rebellion leads to the extinction of the human race.
  37. The Quest for Roboethics: A Survey.Raphael Capurro - manuscript
    Introduction -/- I. Recent Research in Roboethics II. Intercultural Robethics III. Roboethics and Digital Ontology IV. "Robotopia Nipponica" V. Ethics of Robot Cars VI. Open Roboethics Initiative VII. Cyber warfare VIII. Healthcare Robots IX. Robot Law X. Social Robotics -/- Conclusion -/- References -/- Annex 1: Conferences and Workshops Annex 2: Korean Robot Ethics Charter Annex 3: Selected Recent Publications.
  38. Ethics and Robotics.Raphael Capurro & Michael Nagenborg (eds.) - 2009 - Akademische Verlagsgesellschaft.
    P. M. Asaro: What should We Want from a Robot Ethic? G. Tamburrini: Robot Ethics: A View from the Philosophy of Science B. Becker: Social Robots - Emotional Agents: Some Remarks on Naturalizing Man-machine Interaction E. Datteri, G. Tamburrini: Ethical Reflections on Health Care Robotics P. Lin, G. Bekey, K. Abney: Robots in War: Issues of Risk and Ethics J. Altmann: Preventive Arms Control for Uninhabited Military Vehicles J. Weber: Robotic warfare, Human Rights & The Rhetorics of Ethical Machines T. (...)
  39. Fiorella Battaglia and Nathalie Weidenfeld: Roboethics in Film. [REVIEW]Antonio Carnevale - 2016 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 19 (2):549-551.
  40. Can a Robot Be Human? 33 Perplexing Philosophy Puzzles.Peter Cave - 2007 - Oneworld.
  41. Bridging the Responsibility Gap in Automated Warfare.Marc Champagne & Ryan Tonkens - 2015 - Philosophy and Technology 28 (1):125-137.
    Sparrow argues that military robots capable of making their own decisions would be independent enough to allow us denial for their actions, yet too unlike us to be the targets of meaningful blame or praise—thereby fostering what Matthias has dubbed “the responsibility gap.” We agree with Sparrow that someone must be held responsible for all actions taken in a military conflict. That said, we think Sparrow overlooks the possibility of what we term “blank check” responsibility: A person of sufficiently high (...)
  42. Éthique de la recherche en robotique.Raja Chatila - 2014 - Allistene.
    La robotique, comme plus largement le numérique, débouche sur de multiples usages aux déploiements parfois aussi massifs qu’inattendus, tel l’essor actuel des drones civils. Dans ce contexte évolutif, il serait vain d’énoncer de nouvelles normes éthiques qui pourraient vite s’avérer inadéquates. Mieux vaut équiper le monde scienti que pour que la dimension éthique devienne indissociable de l’activité de recherche, dans les communautés et les esprits. Le présent avis émet à cet effet quelques préconisations à l’attention des établissements et un ensemble (...)
  43. Ascribing Moral Value and the Embodied Turing Test.Anthony Chemero - unknown
    What would it take for an artificial agent to be treated as having moral value? As a first step toward answering this question, we ask what it would take for an artificial agent to be capable of the sort of autonomous, adaptive social behavior that is characteristic of the animals that humans interact with. We propose that this sort of capacity is best measured by what we call the Embodied Turing Test. The Embodied Turing test is a test in which (...)
  44. Care Robots and the Future of ICT-Mediated Elderly Care: A Response to Doom Scenarios.Mark Coeckelbergh - 2016 - AI and Society 31 (4):455-462.
    The discussion about robots in elderly care is populated by doom scenarios about a totally dehumanized care system in which elderly people are taken care of by machines. Such scenarios are helpful as they attend us to what we think is important with regard to the quality elderly care. However, this article argues that they are misleading in so far as they (1) assume that deception in care is always morally unacceptable, (2) suggest that robots and other information technologies necessarily (...)
  45. Drones, Information Technology, and Distance: Mapping the Moral Epistemology of Remote Fighting. [REVIEW]Mark Coeckelbergh - 2013 - Ethics and Information Technology 15 (2):87-98.
    Ethical reflection on drone fighting suggests that this practice does not only create physical distance, but also moral distance: far removed from one’s opponent, it becomes easier to kill. This paper discusses this thesis, frames it as a moral-epistemological problem, and explores the role of information technology in bridging and creating distance. Inspired by a broad range of conceptual and empirical resources including ethics of robotics, psychology, phenomenology, and media reports, it is first argued that drone fighting, like other long-range (...)
  46. David J. Gunkel: The Machine Question: Critical Perspectives on AI, Robots, and Ethics. [REVIEW]Mark Coeckelbergh - 2013 - Ethics and Information Technology 15 (3):235-238.
  47. Can We Trust Robots?Mark Coeckelbergh - 2012 - Ethics and Information Technology 14 (1):53-60.
    Can we trust robots? Responding to the literature on trust and e-trust, this paper asks if the question of trust is applicable to robots, discusses different approaches to trust, and analyses some preconditions for trust. In the course of the paper a phenomenological-social approach to trust is articulated, which provides a way of thinking about trust that puts less emphasis on individual choice and control than the contractarian-individualist approach. In addition, the argument is made that while robots are neither human (...)
  48. From Killer Machines to Doctrines and Swarms, or Why Ethics of Military Robotics Is Not (Necessarily) About Robots.Mark Coeckelbergh - 2011 - Philosophy and Technology 24 (3):269-278.
    Ethical reflections on military robotics can be enriched by a better understanding of the nature and role of these technologies and by putting robotics into context in various ways. Discussing a range of ethical questions, this paper challenges the prevalent assumptions that military robotics is about military technology as a mere means to an end, about single killer machines, and about “military” developments. It recommends that ethics of robotics attend to how military technology changes our aims, concern itself not only (...)
  49. You, Robot: On the Linguistic Construction of Artificial Others. [REVIEW]Mark Coeckelbergh - 2011 - AI and Society 26 (1):61-69.
    How can we make sense of the idea of ‘personal’ or ‘social’ relations with robots? Starting from a social and phenomenological approach to human–robot relations, this paper explores how we can better understand and evaluate these relations by attending to the ways our conscious experience of the robot and the human–robot relation is mediated by language. It is argued that our talk about and to robots is not a mere representation of an objective robotic or social-interactive reality, but rather interprets (...)
  50. Moral Appearances: Emotions, Robots, and Human Morality. [REVIEW]Mark Coeckelbergh - 2010 - Ethics and Information Technology 12 (3):235-241.
    Can we build ‘moral robots’? If morality depends on emotions, the answer seems negative. Current robots do not meet standard necessary conditions for having emotions: they lack consciousness, mental states, and feelings. Moreover, it is not even clear how we might ever establish whether robots satisfy these conditions. Thus, at most, robots could be programmed to follow rules, but it would seem that such ‘psychopathic’ robots would be dangerous since they would lack full moral agency. However, I will argue that (...)
1 — 50 / 204