ICRA 2005, IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation

Workshop on Robo-Ethics

Barcelona, April 18th, 2005

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Teaching of Ethics to Engineers: A Proposal for Human-centered Technology

Maria Teresa Russo and Giovanni Mottini, Faculty of Biomedical Engineering, Campus Bio-medico University, Rome, Italy
E-mail: m.russo@unicampus.it
Keywords: Human-centred technology, Anthropology, Roboethics

Technology today is no longer a possession, a set of instruments utilized by man; in stead, it has become a dynamic process that has given rise to a new world vision modifying the notion that man has of himself. The challenge of the so-called "human-centered technology" is that of recovering categories such as man and human, words whose authentic senses have been blurred. It is an urgent task especially when technique is applied to the realm of health and illness, as in the case of Biomedical engineering and Robothics. This is precisely the purpose of the inclusion of Anthropology and Ethics in the curriculum of the Faculty of Biomedical Engineering in Campus Bio-medico, Rome.

The Humanities refer to those sciences which have as object of study man and the understanding that he has of himself; they are as an indispensable tool for regaining the human factor in technological issues, as well as a key to reconstructing the unity of knowledge and of moral experience.

Anthropology answers to the demand of building as authentic an image of man as possible since it delves into the very essence of man over and above his functions. It consists in a philosophical knowledge of man. As an integral perspective, it does not skirt metaphysics which is precisely what gives foundation to the phenomenological approach.

General ethics and Applied ethics together constitute the crucial and critical reflection needed for sketching the profile of a good professional, of a good engineer. Beyond obligations and prohibitions, ethics focuses on the meaning that each one seeks to endow his life and conduct with and this in view of his personal good and that of others, which is the essence of happiness. Professional activity should in fact be coherent with one's life project inasmuch as it is in view of this that the entire person's ethical quality is brought to light.