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robot ethics

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Admin:
This article inspired me to make this post
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2087-2230715,00.html

The article says "We have to manage the ethics of the scientists making the robots and the artificial ethics inside the robots."

I know most of you will be thinking 'oh, robots are no where near advanced enough to even bother with ethics at the moment.' You may be right about the 'artificial ethics,' but what about the ethics of you as a builder?

Almost two years ago I went about an hour north of Baltimore (in the middle of no where) to interview for GDRS (General Dynamics Robotics Systems) for a job (http://www.gdrs.com/). Literally seeing robot tanks driving around outside the offices, I remember running into the ethical question of 'should I really build robots purely designed to kill people?!?' They also told me about a guy that got fired at GDRS, because paraphrased 'he went psycho with a change in ethical thought.'

Since then, its really made me think about military robots . . . The robots I am working on at my current job (for the Navy) are thankfully not for killing . . . but what if you were offered a job of building robots designed to do something you were not comfortable with (sex, killing, spying, etc.)? Would you take it? Would you support giving a robot sentience? What about making robots that care for your kids while you are at work?

After all, robots will be built modeled off the ideals and values of the builder . . .

Thoughts?

dunk:
yea, i know what you mean.
unfortunately military applications are where most of the funding is at.
i'd love to work in robotics one day but unfortunately most of the research jobs are in defense.

a good example is here: http://www.interestingprojects.com/cruisemissile/
what a really cool project. i've thought a bit about creating an autonomous aircraft but as this guy points out, the main application is as a guided weapon.

dunk.

Militoy:
The majority of my work is defense-related, and has been for many years, so I had to settle the ethics questions in my head a long time ago. I have refused only a few projects over the years, for ethical reasons. One was a non-military application – a transformer set and new controller for Florida’s electric chair “Old Sparky”. Another was a fuze-tester for nuclear warheads. No thanks. There have been others – but mainly because of ethical conflicts other than the nature of the projects themselves. As far as robots as weapons – it’s coming, and fast. The DOD has issued a directive that within the next 14 years, approximately 30% of all U.S. combat vehicles will either be robotic, or capable of being remotely-controlled. Some of those will be ARV’s – Armed Robotic Vehicles. I don’t have a problem with the idea of a weaponized robot per se – but I don’t think they should have the ability to make a target decision without direct human oversight. The automatic gun video posted on this site is one example of that type of weapon; The CROWS system – a remote-controlled vehicle-mounted gun operated by a human – would IMHO be a more ethical weapon to field.

I’m curious about the Navy robots Admin mentioned – If you can say; are these land-based robots along the lines of the PackBot, or sea-based, like the Minehunter RMV?

JesseWelling:
I think a lot of people look on the down side of robotics in combat....
If an angry mob of civilians is attacking a robot you don't endanger any human lives in choosing not to open fire.....
But if you are a human being attacked by an angry mob of civilians it is a you or them mentality....

Is this an ethical use of robots?

Cognaut:
That's a great point.

I just keep thinking of that movie, Hardware.  And you know what I think about neural network technology.  It's most likely state is psychosis.

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