Socially interactive robots in a variety of forms and function are quickly becoming part of everyday life and bring with them a host of applied ethical issues. This paper concerns meta-ethical implications at the interface among robotics, ethics, psychology, and the social sciences. While guidelines for the ethical design and use of robots are necessary and urgent, meeting this exigency opens up the issue of whose values and vision of the ideal society inform public policies. The paper is organized as a sequence of questions: Can robots be agents of cultural transmission? Is a cultural shift an issue for roboethics? Should roboethics be an instrument of (political) social engineering? How could biases of the technological imagination be avoided? Does technological determinism compromise the possibility of moral action? The answers to these questions are not straightforwardly affirmative or negative, but their contemplation leads to heeding C. Wright Mills’ metaphor of the cheerful robot.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited