• Question: What ethical rules are there in place for robots and their capabilities?

    Asked by blackbird to Alan on 15 Mar 2011 in Categories: .
    • Photo: Alan Winfield

      Alan Winfield answered on 15 Mar 2011:

      This is a really great question thank you. The short answer is that – right now – there aren’t any ethical rules for robots. So, providing you – or your robots – don’t break the law then right now you could use robots for pretty much anything.

      I’m one of a group of roboticists who think that this situation is wrong. We think that even though robots are not very advanced right now (i.e. not very intelligent) we still need ethical rules for how robots are used. In fact, I argue that it’s *because* robots are not very smart we need ethical rules. Take a robot with a gun as an extreme example. Would you trust a robot with the intelligence of an ant, with a gun? I very much doubt it. But there are some people in the world fitting robots with guns.

      I’m part of a group of people, which includes lawyers and moral philosophers (ethicists) as well as scientists and engineers, who are drawing up an ethical code for how robots should be used. We hope to announce the first draft of the code very soon, but here’s something about this on my blog: