Robot intelligence is as varied as animal intelligence, so why not treat them the same way

Both science fiction and the legal profession have struggled with how to think about autonomous robots, especially in terms of a framework that specifies the rights, duties, and liabilities of an agent that can act independently. Are robots like people, responsible for their actions, or are they like tools, with programmers and operators as ultimately responsible? This article discusses ideas in Machinehood, a scifi book by S.B. Divya, and The New Breed, a non-fiction examination of legal and ethical issues in robotics by Kate Darling. The two books independently propose a third metaphor: robots are like animals. This metaphor sidesteps debates over definitions and levels of autonomy and offers a path to incorporate all types of robotics into existing legal and ethical frameworks derived from bioethics.

Read the article at Science Robotics. And see more science fact meets science fiction at the RTSF Science Robotics page.


You can buy Machinehood and The New Breed through these links.


Chapter 20 of Introduction to AI Robotics, 2nd edition, discusses robot ethics, while Chapter 3 defines automation and autonomy and Chapter 4 of the issues with trying to create levels of autonomy.


See the topics page for links to the science and science fiction behind robotics.



Science Robotics scifi illustration: Real dog and robot dog mirroring each other
Science Robotics illustration: Real dog and robot dog mirroring each other