Information Technology and Ethics/Ethics of Robotics
History of Ethics Regarding RoboticsEdit
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.
Founding Ethics: 3 Laws of Robotics:Edit
In 1942, a science fiction author by the name Isaac Asimov wrote a short story called
“runaround” in which he describes the three laws of robotics. They are as follows:
1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come
2. A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings except where such orders would
conflict with the First Law.
3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with
the First or Second Laws.
While being the work of science fiction writing, these rules couldn't be more prevalent when it
comes to thinking about the ethics of robotics as it rapidly evolves. The 3 laws of robotics, in
short, state that in no way shape or form may a robot harm a human being. This concept is very
relevant within robotics. As robotics evolves it's important to look back and see why robotics
were being implemented in the first place, to make human life easier. Through this endeavor
through the last century, humankind has been working together to perhaps creating artificial life
on par with the complexity of a human being. The remaining portions of this article will cover
some milestones within the past century that support humanity as a whole, working towards
replicating human life unnaturally.
Demonstration of Intelligence - Deep Blue Supercomputer:Edit
In 1996 IBM revealed its super computer named Deep Blue, which was used to challenge
the current world champion chess player. The first set of matches held in 1996 end with the
world champion winning the set, with Deep Blue winning one game and drawing two. After
modifications to Deep Blue, a rematch was held where Deep Blue came out the victor winning
three games and drawing one.
Chess is known to be a very intellectual game throughout the history of man, since the
game was invented. To think people could give a machine the capability to take on the world
champion chess player and win is astonishing, and it really highlights two important topics. 1)
That humans can program a robot to be on the same logical/technical intelligence while also
taking out human error that could be cause by as an example, emotions. 2) Humans can create
devices/robots that are able to make decisions based on what is presented to them. In the case of
Deep Blue, as a move was made by the human player, Deep Blue would have to analyze the
current board layout, cross reference all current moves and calculating the odds of certain moves
giving Deep Blue a victory. That is a very logical approach for a person to take while trying to
win a chess game, and Deep Blue was able to mimic/demonstrate the same mental capacity.
Demonstration of Emotion – Kismet:Edit
In 1998, MIT had developed a robot named Kismet. Kismet was created to see how
learning occurs through visualization, hearing, and speech. Kismet was able to give a response
back to researchers after seeing certain interactions beforehand. If a researcher smiled while
making a certain noise, Kismet would be able to replicate that emotion back to the researcher
through voice and facial expressions. As stated before, robots have had the capability to
challenge human beings to logical intelligence. Possibly developing an emotional intelligence in
that robot also would also get us closer to a type of robot that was warned to us about by Isaac
Asimov. Looking back at the development of robotics, we can see that for the most part, the
research was done to further study humans and see how far we can push artificial intelligence. At
no point in time was robotics mainly focused on bringing pain to humans, it has always been
with benefit as its main goal. An ethical issue brought up by this past experience is, if we have
the technology to give robots the same logical thinking intelligence, do we also want to have
them mimic human emotions as well. Is it wrong to give them that sort of intelligence while also
keeping the 3 laws of robotics in mind, that is to say, humans will always have a priority and
superiority over their created robot counterpart.
Demonstration of Self Replication: University of Cornell Robots:Edit
In 2005, researchers at Cornell University developed cube-like robots that were able to
artificially reproduce. The concept behind this artificial reproduction is, given enough (correct)
material the robot could make an exact replica of itself. In the case of Cornell’s robot, the
material was specially designed blocks. These blocks could just be the stepping stone of
something much greater. It would be one of the final steps to possibly creating an artificial life
simulating a human being. Bringing this together with the other demonstrations is what to look at
when thinking about ethics in robotics. Ideally, bringing these topics together could create an
artificial human. So, is it ethical to still treat robotics with the laws given to us by Asimov? Is
creating life that complex artificially any different that creating life naturally? These are subjects
to think over when looking forward in robotics while taking in consideration where we have
already been in the past.
Bringing it Together:Edit
Theoretically if humans were able to 100% replicate all three of these topics into one
robot, then we would have successful created artificial life. Then at that point, is it still artificial?
Should we still look at robots as tools made by humans? These are ethical values we should keep
in mind looking back at what has already been accomplished while we look toward the future of
Issues revolving around ethics in the future:Edit
Robotics Ethics Dilemma in future.Edit
The most important concern is safety. Robots have been developed and used only for
industrial experts and military use, but now they are used by ordinary people. Robot vacuum
cleaners and lawn mowers are already widely used at home, and robot toys are popular with
As these robots become more intelligent, who is attacking first or harming is becoming unclear.
Should designers be held accountable? Should the user be responsible? Do robots have to take
responsibility? Robots have physical robots that can be touched and digital robots that can not be
touched. Digital robots are as complex as computer programming. For example, you make
If this intelligent expert software robot has made a huge loss in decision making, who will be
responsible for it?
The second serious problem is the second principles of the Asimov robot. We have to obey
human orders unconditionally, but human language and natural language programming is that
robots are difficult to distinguish who has been commanded. Therefore, although the three
principles of Asimov emphasize only the safety of the human, the problem is more serious if the
robot has a sense of perception.
If the robot feels pain, does it grant something special rights? If robots possess emotions, should
robots be given the right to marry humans?
Should I give personal intellectual property or ownership? This is still a long time story. But we
can know that it is not that far from the talk of the animal rights abuse prevention. Robots that
can have sex with humans have emerged and are now a major issue in society.
Besides for the major concern of the overall safety of human beings, the other most criticized
factor of robots is their ability of automation. Automation is the technique of making an
apparatus, a process, or a system operate automatically. People fear this change as the process of
automation could result in the loss of job security. By 2021, robots will have eliminated 6% of
all jobs in the US. On a positive note, the incorporation of robots will also create jobs as there
will be a need to design, manufacture, program, manage, and maintain these robots and systems.
Another huge beneficiary is that it eliminates tedious, mundane, repetitive and potentially
dangerous work. This will allow for people to focus on the more important tasks at hand while
not being held back by time-consuming work.
Ethics of Robotic Technology Current PracticesEdit
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 tele operated 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 Implementation:Edit
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 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 7 th , 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.
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 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.
Basis of Future Ethics in RoboticsEdit
Due to robots being part of the larger broader field of technology, it makes sense that
they grow, expand, and advance simultaneously. In addition to Asimov’s founding laws of
robotics, new laws or ideals are being added in order to expand future installments such as the
three principles of combat robots which include:
1. Combat robots cannot kill our side, but they can kill enemies.
2. The battle robot must follow the command of the friend. You do not have to follow it when
the order is out of line.
3. A battle robot must defend itself as long as it does not violate Article 1 and 2.
Future Development in Robotics:Edit
Robotics in future is concentrated on three categories. Android, Cyborg, Humanoid.
Android is an artificial human made just like a person. Not only appearance but also action and
intelligence are almost the same as human beings. It is covered with artificial skin.
Cyborg is creation that organism is incorporated into machinery, whether it is a human being or
Humanoid is a robot that has a shape similar to a human body, such as a head, a trunk, an arm,
and a leg. Therefore, it is also called humanoid robot because it is the robot which can imitate the
behavior of human being best. ASIMO developed by Honda Japan and HUBO developed by
Korea's KAIST are typical humanoid robots. But its skin is harder than Android.
- Illinois Institute of Technology, Spring 2017 Class Course ITM 485
- Stephen Grzenia - Robots in Recent History
- Daniel Kolodziej - Automation
- Joshua Kazanova - Standards
- Sangmin Park - Future Ethical Concerns
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US Department of Commerce
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Skitterbot. (2009, Feb 2). Self-replicating blocks from Cornell University. [Video File].
Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gZwTcLeelAY
History.com Staff., Deep Blue Beats Kasparov., Retrieved from http://www.history.com/this-
day-in- history/deep-blue- beats-kasparov
Auburn.edu., Isaac Asimov’s “Three Laws of Robotics”., Retrieved from