Robot ethics is currently being debated in the robotics community. The discussions often focus on the robot as an Artificial General Intelligence and thus is expected to be a full moral agent that is trustworthy, aware of ethical situations (liking killing people), and explicitly reasons about “good” decisions. Well, in theory we would have programmed or trained the AGIs to be moral-- that worked with Vision but not so much with Ultron in The Avengers: Age of Ultron. But most robots aren’t an AGI so this ability to conduct Vision-like reasoning to help people isn’t really possible. Instead, the dumber, more realistic robots may be used for situations that require ethical sensitivities. One example is warfighting, but other examples are medical decision aids and systems with autonomy, such as an autopilot. In these functional morality situations, the ethical requirement is often just to work correctly. That requirement is also a key component of operational morality, the expectation that the designers and users of a robot are using this responsibly; robot ethics starts with the designers being responsible in their design and correctness of implementation (operational morality), especially for safety-critical or ethically sensitive situations (functional morality), and then can someday include situations where a AGI robot would reason and make its own decisions as to what was ethical (full moral agency).

December 3, 2018

Recommendation: A thoughtful, though sometimes unsettling, read. Ashby's take on the logical consequences of the de facto Asimov’s Laws governing the von Neumann androids are worth ignoring any annoyances with the world-building and plot.

November 29, 2018

Recommendation: A thoughtful, though sometimes unsettling, read. Ashby's take on the logical consequences of the de facto Asimov’s Laws governing the von Neumann androids are worth ignoring any annoyances with the world-building and plot.

Pedophilia? Really?! Asimov’s n...

October 8, 2018

Robots: humanoid

Recommendation:  Watch it with the family. It’s fast, fun, shallow and totally unrealistic but a good opportunity to talk about ethics and the Trolley Problem

The  I, Robot movie (2004) comes across like some hack did a quick scan of Asimov’s classic col...

August 20, 2018

Recommendation: An enjoyable stand-alone suspense novel that explores teleoperation and the old joke that on the internet no one knows you’re a dog.

robots: Teleoperated spiders

Provenance is the latest book from Ann Leckie, whose Ancillary Justice series- also called th...

July 11, 2018

Robots: humanoid, unmanned systems, Internet of Things robots

What it gets right about robots: Ethical and moral concerns about intelligent robots, problems with rule-based implementations

Recommendation: Put this on your reading list! Don’t be afraid it will all be le...

May 25, 2018

Robots:  humanoids, squarish service bots, those floating creepy military droids   

What it gets right about robotics:  not much beyond establishing that a robot can have a female voice and not be a sexbot.   

Recommended watching:    Wait u...

May 18, 2018

Welcome back to the Robotics Through Science Fiction podcast. This week we are joined by the fantastic Professor Ryan Calo to discuss ethics and liability!

If you would like an audio only download of this podcast, please head over to the official RTSF soundcloud below.....

April 30, 2018

This week we will explore robot gender in literature and cinema and why roboticists build robots that are explicitly a male or female gender. After all, it’s the start of Season 2 of HBO’s Westworld, where female robots Delores and Maeve are having their #MeToo moment....

April 14, 2018

Welcome back to the Robotics Through Science Fiction podcast. This week we are joined by the fantastic Aimee van Wynsberghe to discuss sexbots!

If you would like an audio only download of this podcast, please head over to the official RTSF soundcloud below...

https://sou...

March 26, 2018

Robots: Exoskeletons or mecha

What it gets right about robotics: nothing.  But along with Pacific Rim, it is a teachable moment about control and exoskeletons.

Recommended reading: Great story, just don’t get distracted by the lousy robotics. 

The highly enjoyable Themis...

March 5, 2018

Robots: Borg-like rectangular space ship robots, UAVs that look like Harrier jump jets, and Iron Giant style humanoid ground robots.

What it gets right about robotics: nothing, but there are some teachable moments about social robots and the Uncanny Valley.

Recommended w...

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