ICRA 2005, IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation

Workshop on Robo-Ethics

Barcelona, April 18th, 2005

home >>> R. Cordeschi and G. Tamburrini

Roboethics and Scientific Method

Roberto Cordeschi, Dipartimento di Scienze della Comunicazione, Università di Salerno, Italy

Guglielmo Tamburrini
, Dipartimento di Scienze Fisiche, Università di Napoli Federico II, Italy

Pressing ethical issues raised by current research in robotics include the application of precautionary principles, responsibility and freedom in scientific research, robotic system accountability, the effects of robot autonomy in human environments, human-machine cognitive and emotional bonds, human identity and integrity.

Rational discussion and sensible policy making in roboethics are hindered by conceptual gaps and inadequate understanding of robotic systems. We have only a fallible and incomplete knowledge of the robots that we design. These epistemic predicaments are illustrated by reference to theoretical unpredictability of machine behaviours, behavioural brittleness in novel environments, limitations of machine learning and machine explanation capacities.

Researchers in robotics and related fields of investigations can play significant roles in developing a firmer rational basis for understanding, triaging, monitoring roboethical issues. In particular, epistemological reflections on robot modelling and experimenting are crucial to formulate recommendations about proper environments for machine use, to ground sensible applications of precautionary principles, to develop better validation techniques, and more generally to guide responsible scientific and technological research in robotics.