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Autonomous Military Robotics: Risk, Ethics, and Design

This report is designed as a preliminary investigation into the risk and ethics issues related to autonomous military systems, with a particular focus on battlefield robotics as perhaps the most controversial area. It is intended to help inform policymakers, military personnel, scientists, as well as the broader public who collectively influence such developments. Our goal…

Autonomous Vehicles Need Experimental Ethics: Are We Ready for Utilitarian Cars?

The wide adoption of self-driving, Autonomous Vehicles (AVs) promises to dramatically reduce the number of traffic accidents. Some accidents, though, will be inevitable, because some situations will require AVs to choose the lesser of two evils. For example, running over a pedestrian on the road or a passer-by on the side; or choosing whether to…

Autonomous Weapons: Are You Sure These are Killer Robots? Can We Talk About It?

The rise of autonomous weapons is creating understandable concern for the international community as it is impossible to predict exactly what will happen with the technology. This uncertainty has led some to advocate for a preemptive ban on the technology. Yet the emergence of a new means of warfare is not a unique phenomenon and…

Contemporary Governance Architecture Regarding Robotics Technologies: An Assessment

Even a cursory review of the contemporary governance architecture regarding military technological innovation generally reveals a disturbing lack of consensus regarding the necessity for governance and methodologies to be utilized to achieve it. Innovations, adaptations, and uses in the areas of nanotechnology, bio-science, information science, cognitive technologies - referred to generally as NBIC - and…

Ethical Trust in the Context of Robot-Assisted Surgery

Robot Surgery began as a general practice in the United States in 2000, when the robotic da Vinci Surgical System was approved for use in hospitals by the FDA. Recently there have been some questions regarding the safety record of these machines and their benefits relative to their expense. Should we as patients and caregivers…

From Killer Machines to Doctrines and Swarms, or Why Ethics of Military Robotics Is Not (Necessarily) About Robots

Ethical reflections on military robotics can be enriched by a better understanding of the nature and role of these technologies and by putting robotics into context in various ways. Discussing a range of ethical questions, this paper challenges the prevalent assumptions that military robotics is about military technology as a mere means to an end,…

Governing Lethal Behavior: Embedding Ethics in a Hybrid Deliberative/Reactive Robot Architecture

This article provides the basis, motivation, theory, and design recommendations for the implementation of an ethical control and reasoning system potentially suitable for constraining lethal actions in an autonomous robotic system so that they fall within the bounds prescribed by the Laws of War and Rules of Engagement. It is based upon extensions to existing…

Health Care, Capabilities, and AI Assistive Technologies

Scenarios involving the introduction of artificially intelligent (AI) assistive technologies in health care practices raise several ethical issues. In this paper, I discuss four objections to introducing AI assistive technologies in health care practices as replacements for human care. I analyse them as demands for felt care, good care, private care, and real care. I…

Is the Concept of an Ethical Governor Philosophically Sound?

In a series of publications, Ronald Arkin and his team (Arkin, 2009; Arkin et al., 2009) have proposed the concept of an ethical governor, which is supposed to effectively control and enforce the ethical use of lethal force by robots on the battlefield. The idea of an ethical governor, although presently of little influence on…

Killer Robots: Legality and Ethicality of Autonomous Weapons

Military robots and other, potentially autonomous robotic systems such as unmanned combat air vehicles (UCAVs) and unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs) could soon be introduced to the battlefield. Look further into the future and we may see autonomous micro- and nanorobots armed and deployed in swarms of thousands or even millions. This growing automation of warfare…

Machine morality: Bottom-up and top-down approaches for modelling human moral faculties

The implementation of moral decision making abilities in artificial intelligence (AI) is a natural and necessary extension to the social mechanisms of autonomous software agents and robots. Engineers exploring design strategies for systems sensitive to moral considerations in their choices and actions will need to determine what role ethical theory should play in defining control…

On the ethical framing of research programs in robotics

Robotic systems and technologies step out of research laboratories jointly with information about the long-term goals of technological inquiry they are lined up with and about the short-term objectives guiding daily laboratory activities. These various ingredients play crucial roles in the pursuit of technological research programs. A comprehensive ethical framing of technological research programs is…