Books  |  ,   |  December 9, 2011

Robot Ethics: The Ethical and Social Implications of Robotics

Edited by Patrick Lin, Keith Abney and George Bekey.
Published MIT Press.
400 pages.

Robots today serve in many roles, from entertainer to educator to executioner. As robotics technology advances, ethical concerns become more pressing: Should robots be programmed to follow a code of ethics, if this is even possible? Are there risks in forming emotional bonds with robots? How might society—and ethics—change with robotics? This volume is the first book to bring together prominent scholars and experts from both science and the humanities to explore these and other questions in this emerging field.

Starting with an overview of the issues and relevant ethical theories, the topics flow naturally from the possibility of programming robot ethics to the ethical use of military robots in war to legal and policy questions, including liability and privacy concerns. The contributors then turn to human-robot emotional relationships, examining the ethical implications of robots as sexual partners, caregivers, and servants. Finally, they explore the possibility that robots, whether biological-computational hybrids or pure machines, should be given rights or moral consideration.

Ethics is often slow to catch up with technological developments. This authoritative and accessible volume fills a gap in both scholarly literature and policy discussion, offering an impressive collection of expert analyses of the most crucial topics in this increasingly important field.

Table of Contents

Part I. Introduction
1. Introduction to Robot Ethics — Patrick Lin
2. Current Trends in Robotics: Technology and Ethics — George Bekey
3 Robotics, Ethical Theory, and Metaethics: A Guide for the Perplexed — Keith Abney

Part II. Design and Programming
4. Moral Machines: Contradiction in Terms, or Abdication of Human Responsibility? — Colin Allen and Wendell Wallach
5. Compassionate AI and Selfless Robots: A Buddhist Approach — James Hughes
6. The Divine-Command Approach to Robot Ethics — Selmer Bringsjord and Joshua Taylor

Part III. Military
7. Killing Made Easy: From Joysticks to Politics — Noel Sharkey
8. Robotic Warfare: Some Challenges in Moving from Non-Civilian to Civilian Theaters — Marcello Guarini and Paul Bello
9. Responsibility for Military Robots — Gert-Jan Lokhorst and Jeroen van den Hoven

Part IV. Law
10. Contemporary Governance Architecture Regarding Robotics Technologies: An Assessment — Richard O’Meara
11. A Body to Kick, But Still No Soul to Damn: Legal Perspectives on Robotics — Peter Asaro
12. Robots and Privacy — M. Ryan Calo

Part V. Psychology and Sex
13. The Inherent Dangers of Unidirectional Emotional Bonds between Humans and Social Robots –Matthias Scheutz
14. The Ethics of Robot Prostitutes — David Levy
15. Do You Want a Robot Lover?: The Ethics of Caring Technologies — Blay Whitby

Part VI. Medical and Care
16. Robot Caregivers: Ethical Issues Across the Human Lifespan — Jason Borenstein and Yvette Pearson
17. The Rights and Wrongs of Robot Care — Noel Sharkey and Amanda Sharkey
18. Designing People to Serve — Steve Petersen

Part VII. Rights and Ethics
19. Can Machines Be People? Reflections on the Turing Triage Test — Rob Sparrow
20. Robots with Biological Brains — Kevin Warwick
21. Moral Machines and the Threat of Ethical Nihilism — Anthony Beavers

Part VIII. Epilogue
22. Roboethics: the Applied Ethics for a New Science — Gianmarco Veruggio and Keith Abney

About the Editors

  • Patrick Lin is a philosopher and Director of the Ethics + Emerging Sciences Group, based at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo.
  • Keith Abney is a philosopher of science and Senior Lecturer at California Polytechnic State University.
  • George A. Bekey is Professor Emeritus in Computer Science at University of Southern California and Distinguished Professor of Engineering at California Polytechnic State University.