Information Technology and Ethics/Ethics of Robotic Technology Current Practices

Automation and robotic technology are becoming more mainstream every day. As the integration of these cyber based technologies continues to evolve, current ethical practices are divided into three specific application based groups. Each group has its own unique set of challenges. As further integration takes place, ethical risk assessment will continually need to be assessed as to stay current with behaviors engineers are ultimately responsible for.


The most important aspect of safety is protocol regarding stopping the robot. “Robots can do unpredictable things; the bigger/heavier the robot the more space you should allow it when operating. Always verify that the robot is powered off before interacting with it. Never stick your fingers into wheels, tracks, manipulator pinch points, etc. while the robot is powered on. Remotely teleoperated robots may be the most dangerous because the remote operator may not know you decided to perform on-the-spot maintenance! Always familiarize yourself with the EMERGENCY STOP procedures first -- and last -- before interacting with or operating robots. Some implementations are more predictable than others” (NIST Robot guide). Personal protective wear must also be worn when working with robotics. Protective wear consists of helmet, ear and eye protection, long pants and long sleeved shirt as well as boots.

Testing and ImplementationEdit

As with any cyber technology, robotic engineering must pass through a strenuous process of safety and quality control like automobiles. These standards include testing the mobility, communications, manipulation, and human-system Interaction mechanisms to insure they are safe and responsive. Procedures must be clearly outlined for testing with strict disclosure standards for data sets to licensing and governing bodies. Transparency is key.

Ground SystemsEdit

Ground system specific ethical concerns currently include the use of robotic droids used to deliver and detonate explosives on human targets as seen in the downtown Dallas shootout on July 7th, 2016. Other issues include the introduction of artificial intelligence into robotics. For instance, whether an emotional bond with a robot is desirable, particularly when the robot is designed to interact with children or the elderly. This concept of managing artificial intelligence within robotic frame is currently the most important issue facing both robotics and artificial intelligence and will remain so moving forward. Everything from the coding of AI behavior, to the safety parameters for shutting down a robot equipped with AI deserve intense scrutiny under the provision that they do not harm humans and obey orders.

Aerial SystemsEdit

Issues specific to Aerial systems include surveillance and application for the use of taking human life. Drone strikes under the Obama administration killed up to 117 civilians worldwide. 526 drone strikes were ordered under the Obama administration. Surveillance specific issues include illegal audio and video recording of private citizens.

Aquatic SystemsEdit

Aquatic robotic ethical concerns are related to surveillance and warfare. Current issue includes the seizure of an American submarine drone in December of 2016 by China. The drone was eventually returned, but future incursions are guaranteed. It is also possible to weaponize a drone similar to its aerial counterpart and deliver lethal strikes.