The case for robot ethics

W I R E D | Do Humanlike Machines Deserve Human Rights?

This question is starting to get debated by robot designers and toymakers. With advanced robotics becoming cheaper and more commonplace, the challenge isn’t how we learn to accept robots—but whether we should care when they’re mistreated. And if we start caring about robot ethics, might we then go one insane step further and grant them rights?

Domo w/banana (Rodney Brooks, MIT)

Robot ethics“. It’s an interesting question, and I think Daniel Roth (the essayist) does a good job of describing what’s at stake.



It’s not really about whether we’ve reached the point and/or are likely to ever reach the point when robots are created with the cognitive capacity to become self-aware and sentient. It’s at what point we’ve anthropomorphized them enough for us to feel compassionate towards them.

technology abuse“: “As technology develops animal-like sophistication, finding the thin metallic line between what’s safe to treat as an object and what’s not will be tricky.”


OK, so it’s not to say that the point at which machines can match human intellect wouldn’t be a defining moment for this argument. Just that the argument can be made without relying on it as an inevitability. Until someone can raise the level of credibility of the Singularity beyond the mere hypothetical, I prefer to err on the side of the skeptic.

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