First International Symposium on
30th - 31st January 2004, Villa Nobel, Sanremo, Italy

A Proposal for a Roboethics

Gianmarco Veruggio
President, School of Robotics & Head, CNR-Robotlab, Genova, Italy
Phone: +(39)010-6475 616 , Fax: +(39)010-6475 646

A Robotics revolution is in progress, and in some decades humankind will have to face another crucial historical cultural phase-shift.

Robots are going to permeate our society, from the humanoids, to robots of several different shapes and functions, according to the roles they will be performing in society. Human life will depend ever more from robot's interventions, both because they will control the elementary activities and facilities, and because, ultimately, on them the well being or even the extinction of humankind is going to lie.

The dependence of our society from robots will intervene long before robot will be enough developed to behave according the three Laws of Robotics with well-founded security. That is why for a long time the responsibility of robot's behaviour will fall on the scientists who will design, on the manufacturers who will produce and on the end users who will employ the robots. And nobody knows today whether in the future our society will want to implement the Three Laws in the robots.

Actually, the most urgent problem is not to develop an artificial ethics to be embodied in the robots, but a human ethics shared by the people who build robots and who employ them.

That is why is so urgent to give birth to Roboethics, and open the widest possible debate, among all the nations, cultures and faiths of the world.

The Roboethics Manifesto

A way to focus the debate on Roboethics could be to write down a manifesto that could be an expression of our awareness about of the importance of the problem, calling for contributions from all the fields of knowledge and from all concerned people.

This manifesto should try to analize the various problems posed by the complex human-robot interaction and should contain an Ethical Commitment for everybody involved, at any title, in the Robotics Field.

Here below a first proposal.

Conscious of the social, economical and political implications posed, we committ ourselves:

  1. To increase public awareness about Robotics, opening a debate based on correct information, permitting people to actively take part in the process of creating a collective consciousness able to understand and prevent the wrong use of technology.

  2. To actively promote the development of Robotics to move towards the social progress of Humankind and the protection of the Earth.

  3. To refuse any involvement in programs aimed at the design, the construction and the use of Robots against human beings and their Environment.

  4. To contribute to the creation of a "common ethic", that could be shared by all cultures, all nations and all faiths, according to which the design, building and use of "intelligent machines" against human beings is considered a crime against Humankind.

Draft 18th Jan '04