Special Issue "ROBOETHICS"

A special issue of Information (ISSN 2078-2489). This special issue belongs to the section "Artificial Intelligence".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 June 2018)

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Spyros G. Tzafestas

School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, National Technical University of Athens, Athens, Greece
Website | E-Mail
Interests: intelligent control; intelligent robotics; intelligent automation; fault detection/diagnosis; roboethics/robophilosophy; infoethics/infophilosophy

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Roboethics (Robot Ethics) is a branch of applied ethics and technoethics (technology ethics) of great value for modern human society. It studies the ethical problems that arise with the design, operation, control, and use of mental (intelligent, cognitive, autonomous) robots in real life. These problems have to be faced by scientists/engineers, operators/programmers, and end users in their own consequences. Overall, roboethics investigates how moral and ethical principles and theories can be (and must be) employed to resolve the complicated and crucial ethical issues/dilemmas encountered in practice when autonomous or semiautonomous robots are put at work. At the philosophical and theoretical level roboethics informs ethics via the development of potentially new ethical theories emergent from the field of robotics.

The aim of this Special Issue is to publish high-quality research papers of both theoretical and practical nature. Particular areas to be considered include, but are not limited to, the following:

Theoretical roboethics issues.
Effects of robotics on society.
Robot design ethics.
Robot use ethics.
Ethics of health care robots.
Ethics of robotic surgery.
Autonomous cars’ ethics.
Ethics of assistive robots.
Ethics of social robots.
Ethics of war robots.
Security and privacy robot ethics.
Robot rights.
Deliberate abuse of robots.
Robot economy ethics.
Philosophical aspects of roboethics.
Other roboethics issues.

Prof. Spyros G. Tzafestas
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Information is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1000 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Roboethics
  • Automated driving vehicles
  • Assistive robots
  • Social robots
  • Surgical robots
  • War robots
  • Robot rights

Published Papers (8 papers)

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Editorial

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Open AccessEditorial Editorial for the Special Issue on “ROBOETHICS”
Information 2018, 9(12), 331; https://doi.org/10.3390/info9120331
Received: 18 December 2018 / Accepted: 18 December 2018 / Published: 19 December 2018
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Abstract
Ethical and social issues of robotics have attracted increasing attention from the scientific and technical community over the years. These issues arise particularly in mental and sensitive robotic applications, such as robot-based rehabilitation, social robot (sociorobot) applications, and military robot applications. The purpose [...] Read more.
Ethical and social issues of robotics have attracted increasing attention from the scientific and technical community over the years. These issues arise particularly in mental and sensitive robotic applications, such as robot-based rehabilitation, social robot (sociorobot) applications, and military robot applications. The purpose of launching this Special Issue was to publish high-quality papers addressing timely and important aspects of roboethics, and to serve as a dissemination source of novel ideas demonstrating the necessity of roboethics. The papers finally included in the Special Issue deal with fundamental aspects and address interesting deep questions in the roboethics and robophililosophy field. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue ROBOETHICS)

Research

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Open AccessArticle Can Social Robots Make Societies More Human?
Information 2018, 9(12), 295; https://doi.org/10.3390/info9120295
Received: 12 September 2018 / Revised: 8 November 2018 / Accepted: 15 November 2018 / Published: 22 November 2018
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Abstract
A major criticism social robots often face is that their integration in real social, human environments will dehumanize some of the roles currently being played by the human agents. This implicitly overestimates the social skills of the robots, which are constantly being upgraded, [...] Read more.
A major criticism social robots often face is that their integration in real social, human environments will dehumanize some of the roles currently being played by the human agents. This implicitly overestimates the social skills of the robots, which are constantly being upgraded, but which are still far from being able to overshadow humans. Moreover, it reflects loosely rational fears that robots may overcome humans in the near future. This paper points to a direction opposite to mainstream, and claims that robots can induce humanizing feelings in humans. In fact, current technological limitations can be managed to induce a perception of social fragility that may lead human agents to reason about the social condition of a robot. Though robot and/or technology phobias may bias the way a social robot is perceived, this reasoning process may contribute to an introspection on the meaning of being social and, potentially, to contribute to humanizing social environments. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue ROBOETHICS)
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Open AccessArticle Two New Philosophical Problems for Robo-Ethics
Information 2018, 9(10), 256; https://doi.org/10.3390/info9100256
Received: 27 August 2018 / Revised: 23 September 2018 / Accepted: 16 October 2018 / Published: 18 October 2018
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Abstract
The purpose of this paper is to describe two new philosophical problems for robo-ethics. When one considers the kinds of philosophical problems that arise in the emerging field of robo-ethics, one typically thinks of issues that concern agency, autonomy, rights, consciousness, warfare/military applications, [...] Read more.
The purpose of this paper is to describe two new philosophical problems for robo-ethics. When one considers the kinds of philosophical problems that arise in the emerging field of robo-ethics, one typically thinks of issues that concern agency, autonomy, rights, consciousness, warfare/military applications, employment and work, the impact for elder-care, and many others. All of these philosophical problems are well known. However, this paper describes two new philosophical problems for robo-ethics that have not been previously addressed in the literature. The author’s view is that if these philosophical problems are not solved, some aspects of robo-ethics research and development will be challenged. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue ROBOETHICS)
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle Vital, Sophia, and Co.—The Quest for the Legal Personhood of Robots
Information 2018, 9(9), 230; https://doi.org/10.3390/info9090230
Received: 26 July 2018 / Revised: 5 September 2018 / Accepted: 7 September 2018 / Published: 10 September 2018
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (206 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The paper examines today’s debate on the legal status of AI robots, and how often scholars and policy makers confuse the legal agenthood of these artificial agents with the status of legal personhood. By taking into account current trends in the field, the [...] Read more.
The paper examines today’s debate on the legal status of AI robots, and how often scholars and policy makers confuse the legal agenthood of these artificial agents with the status of legal personhood. By taking into account current trends in the field, the paper suggests a twofold stance. First, policy makers shall seriously mull over the possibility of establishing novel forms of accountability and liability for the activities of AI robots in contracts and business law, e.g., new forms of legal agenthood in cases of complex distributed responsibility. Second, any hypothesis of granting AI robots full legal personhood has to be discarded in the foreseeable future. However, how should we deal with Sophia, which became the first AI application to receive citizenship of any country, namely, Saudi Arabia, in October 2017? Admittedly, granting someone, or something, legal personhood is—as always has been—a highly sensitive political issue that does not simply hinge on rational choices and empirical evidence. Discretion, arbitrariness, and even bizarre decisions play a role in this context. However, the normative reasons why legal systems grant human and artificial entities, such as corporations, their status, help us taking sides in today’s quest for the legal personhood of AI robots. Is citizen Sophia really conscious, or capable of suffering the slings and arrows of outrageous scholars? Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue ROBOETHICS)
Open AccessArticle Getting Ready for the Next Step: Merging Information Ethics and Roboethics—A Project in the Context of Marketing Ethics
Information 2018, 9(8), 195; https://doi.org/10.3390/info9080195
Received: 30 June 2018 / Revised: 30 July 2018 / Accepted: 31 July 2018 / Published: 1 August 2018
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Abstract
This article presents some pressing issues on roboethics, which lie at the frontier between roboethics and information ethics. It relates them to the well-established field of marketing ethics, stressing two main points. First, that human attention and willpower is limited and susceptible to [...] Read more.
This article presents some pressing issues on roboethics, which lie at the frontier between roboethics and information ethics. It relates them to the well-established field of marketing ethics, stressing two main points. First, that human attention and willpower is limited and susceptible to be exploited. Second, that the possibility of using consumer profiles considerably increases the possibility of manipulation. It presents the interactions with robots as a particularly intense setting, in which the humanlike presence and the possibility of tailoring communications to the profile of the human target can be especially problematic. The paper concludes with some guidelines that could be useful in limiting the potentially harmful effects of human–robot interactions in the context of information ethics. These guidelines focus on the need for transparency and the establishment of limits, especially for products and services and vulnerable collectives, as well as supporting a healthy attention and willpower. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue ROBOETHICS)
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle Engineering Cheerful Robots: An Ethical Consideration
Information 2018, 9(7), 152; https://doi.org/10.3390/info9070152
Received: 16 May 2018 / Revised: 10 June 2018 / Accepted: 22 June 2018 / Published: 24 June 2018
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Abstract
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. [...] Read more.
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. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue ROBOETHICS)
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle Can Social Robots Qualify for Moral Consideration? Reframing the Question about Robot Rights
Information 2018, 9(4), 73; https://doi.org/10.3390/info9040073
Received: 25 February 2018 / Revised: 19 March 2018 / Accepted: 22 March 2018 / Published: 29 March 2018
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (256 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
A controversial question that has been hotly debated in the emerging field of robot ethics is whether robots should be granted rights. Yet, a review of the recent literature in that field suggests that this seemingly straightforward question is far from clear and [...] Read more.
A controversial question that has been hotly debated in the emerging field of robot ethics is whether robots should be granted rights. Yet, a review of the recent literature in that field suggests that this seemingly straightforward question is far from clear and unambiguous. For example, those who favor granting rights to robots have not always been clear as to which kinds of robots should (or should not) be eligible; nor have they been consistent with regard to which kinds of rights—civil, legal, moral, etc.—should be granted to qualifying robots. Also, there has been considerable disagreement about which essential criterion, or cluster of criteria, a robot would need to satisfy to be eligible for rights, and there is ongoing disagreement as to whether a robot must satisfy the conditions for (moral) agency to qualify either for rights or (at least some level of) moral consideration. One aim of this paper is to show how the current debate about whether to grant rights to robots would benefit from an analysis and clarification of some key concepts and assumptions underlying that question. My principal objective, however, is to show why we should reframe that question by asking instead whether some kinds of social robots qualify for moral consideration as moral patients. In arguing that the answer to this question is “yes,” I draw from some insights in the writings of Hans Jonas to defend my position. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue ROBOETHICS)

Review

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Open AccessReview Roboethics: Fundamental Concepts and Future Prospects
Information 2018, 9(6), 148; https://doi.org/10.3390/info9060148
Received: 31 May 2018 / Revised: 13 June 2018 / Accepted: 13 June 2018 / Published: 20 June 2018
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (1887 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Many recent studies (e.g., IFR: International Federation of Robotics, 2016) predict that the number of robots (industrial, service/social, intelligent/autonomous) will increase enormously in the future. Robots are directly involved in human life. Industrial robots, household robots, medical robots, assistive robots, sociable/entertainment robots, and [...] Read more.
Many recent studies (e.g., IFR: International Federation of Robotics, 2016) predict that the number of robots (industrial, service/social, intelligent/autonomous) will increase enormously in the future. Robots are directly involved in human life. Industrial robots, household robots, medical robots, assistive robots, sociable/entertainment robots, and war robots all play important roles in human life and raise crucial ethical problems for our society. The purpose of this paper is to provide an overview of the fundamental concepts of robot ethics (roboethics) and some future prospects of robots and roboethics, as an introduction to the present Special Issue of the journal Information on “Roboethics”. We start with the question of what roboethics is, as well as a discussion of the methodologies of roboethics, including a brief look at the branches and theories of ethics in general. Then, we outline the major branches of roboethics, namely: medical roboethics, assistive roboethics, sociorobot ethics, war roboethics, autonomous car ethics, and cyborg ethics. Finally, we present the prospects for the future of robotics and roboethics. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue ROBOETHICS)
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