Paper 1: Ethics in Robotics
Due March30th at the beginning of
Summary and Thesis:
The field of Robotics brings up new ethical and legal questions not
faced by other disciplines. When teleoperated robotic surgery goes
wrong, where is blame assigned? Is it the surgeons fault? Was it lag between
the surgeon's console in Boston and the robot in Antarctica? Was it the
robotic hardware? was it the software? Putting robots into a position to
affect people's lives (and harm them in particular) adds to the ethical
responsibilities of both those who design the robots and those who use them.
If a military robot is used to train a gun on a group of enemy soldiers who
have surrendered, and then a software or hardware glitch causes the robot to
fire, does the soldier who used the robot to aim the gun in the first place
bear any blame?
Write a (four pages not counting references) paper on the ethics of using
and designing robots in potentially dangerous situations. Use what we talk
about in class and your own literature search to answer one of the following
- Robotics has always been pushed for jobs that were one of the "3 Ds -
dirty, dull, dangerous". Today we have robots that can dance and play
soccer. We have teleoperation capable of letting an operator run a robot
half a world away. How will this effect labor markets in the United
States and elsewhere? Will we see prisoners operating snowplows via
remote control? Will labor laws have to be changed? How will the use of
robots affect social structures and labor markets here and abroad?
Defend your answer with facts, history, precedent and references.
- Given the near term option to replace body parts which are lost due to
injury or illness, how can we easily define robot and person separately?
Will the serious accident victim with robotic arms, legs and rebuilt
torso- the real version of the 1970s "six million doller man" be more
desired for certain jobs than a "flesh person"? Will this create two
classes of people? Again defend your answer with facts, history,
precedent and references.
- Will fully autonomous armed robots appear on the battlefield in the
next 5 years as many have predicted? Will this be good or bad for
humanity in conflict? Consider the technical, political and social
forces and challenges. If so will they still be in the field in 10
years? (After all if you asked the same question about the atomic bomb
in 1943 we would have to answer yes to the first question but no to the
second. Defend your answer with facts, history, precedent and
Write this as a scholarly paper, that is if there is anything that everyone
in the class isn't expected to know, if you make the claim, you must provide
a reference to back up the claim. All references must be listed on a fifth
page of the paper. Use whatever reference style you want so long as you are
consistent. If you copy and paste anything from anywhere into your paper it
must be in quotes and referenced immediately afterwards. If you are
reporting a paragraph that makes several claims that can be backed up by a
single reference, feel free to wait to reference it till the end of the
paragraph. It goes without saying but standard formal English syntax and
grammar are required.