Of, For, and By the People: The Legal Lacuna of Synthetic Persons

Conferring legal personhood on purely synthetic entities is a very real legal possibility, one under consideration presently by the European Union. We show here that such legislative action would be morally unnecessary and legally troublesome. While AI legal personhood may have emotional or economic appeal, so do many superficially desirable hazards against which the law…

The ethics of algorithms: Mapping the debate

In information societies, operations, decisions and choices previously left to humans are increasingly delegated to algorithms, which may advise, if not decide, about how data should be interpreted and what actions should be taken as a result. More and more often, algorithms mediate social processes, business transactions, governmental decisions, and how we perceive, understand, and…

Robot Futures

With robots, we are inventing a new species that is part material and part digital. The ambition of modern robotics goes beyond copying humans, beyond the effort to make walking, talking androids that are indistinguishable from people. Future robots will have superhuman abilities in both the physical and digital realms. They will be embedded in…

Robot carers, ethics, and older people

This paper offers an ethical framework for the development of robots as home companions that are intended to address the isolation and reduced physical functioning of frail older people with capacity, especially those living alone in a non-institutional setting. Our ethical framework gives autonomy priority in a list of purposes served by assistive technology in…

Technology and the Character of Contemporary Life: A Philosophical Inquiry

Blending social analysis and philosophy, Albert Borgmann maintains that technology creates a controlling pattern in our lives. This pattern, discernible even in such an inconspicuous action as switching on a stereo, has global effects: it sharply divides life into labor and leisure, it sustains the industrial democracies, and it fosters the view that the earth…

Legal and ethical issues in telemedicine and robotics

Modern medical concerns with telemedicine and robotics practiced across national or other jurisdictional boundaries engage the historical, complex area of law called conflict of laws. An initial concern is whether a practitioner licensed only in jurisdiction A who treats a patient in jurisdiction B violates B's laws. Further concerns are whether a practitioner in A…

What Should We Want From a Robot Ethic

There are at least three things we might mean by ethics in robotics: the ethical systems built into robots, the ethics of people who design and use robots, and the ethics of how people treat robots. This paper argues that the best approach to robot ethics is one which addresses all three of these, and…

Why We Need Better Ethics for Emerging Technologies

Technological revolutions are dissected into three stages: the introduction stage, the permeation stage, and the power stage. The information revolution is a primary example of this tripartite model. A hypothesis about ethics is proposed, namely, ethical problems increase as technological revolutions progress toward and into the power stage. Genetic technology, nanotechnology, and neurotechnology are good…

When will people regard robots as morally competent social partners?

We propose that moral competence consists of five distinct but related elements: (1) having a system of norms; (2) mastering a moral vocabulary; (3) exhibiting moral cognition and affect; (4) exhibiting moral decision making and action; and (5) engaging in moral communication. We identify some of the likely triggers that may convince people to (justifiably)…

How Robots Can Affect Human Behavior: Investigating the Effects of Robotic Displays of Protest and Distress

The rise of military drones and other robots deployed in ethically-sensitive contexts has fueled interest in developing autonomous agents that behave ethically. The ability for autonomous agents to independently reason about situational ethics will inevitably lead to confrontations between robots and human operators regarding the morality of issued commands. Ideally, a robot would be able…