Design Con 2015
Breaking News
Blog

Engineering Ethics Into A Robot

Watch Cindy and Transport in action in a preliminary lab test:

How to engineer ethics into a robot
A decision-making process that mimics what humans tend to do in morally challenging situations may be the answer to engineering ethics into a robot. This is done by first recognizing morally challenged situations, followed by deploying reasoning strategies that include moral principles, norms, and values. This corresponds to Prof. James H. Moor's third kind of ethical agent, the "explicit ethical agent," as described by Moor:

    Explicit ethical agents can identify and process ethical information about a variety of situations and make sensitive determinations about what should be done. In particular, they are able to reach "reasonable decisions" in moral dilemma-like situations in which various ethical principles are in conflict.

Scheutz has argued that current technological advances in robotics and artificial intelligence have enabled the deployment of autonomous robots that can make decisions on their own. However, most of these currently employed robots are fairly simple and their autonomy is limited. Therefore they carry a potential for becoming harmful machines due to their lack of robotic decision-making algorithms that could take any moral aspects into account. EETimes asked Scheutz what exactly his fear is.

"If we do not endow robots with the ability to detect and properly handle morally charged situations in ways that are acceptable to humans, we will increase the potential for harm and human suffering unnecessarily," he says, "for autonomous robots will then inevitably make decisions that we deem 'morally wrong,' e.g. failure to provide a patient with pain medication when it was warranted."

There are actions that robot developers could take in order to mitigate the problem of morally challenged situations that social robots deployed in human societies will face, according to what Scheutz argues in his paper "Think and Do the Right Thing -- A Plea for Morally Competent Autonomous Robots." EE Times asked Scheutz what these actions could be.

< Previous Page 2 / 3 Next >
View Comments: Newest First | Oldest First | Threaded View
Page 1 / 2   >   >>
David Ashton
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Liar
David Ashton   7/26/2014 8:54:06 PM
NO RATINGS
@Crusty..."humans made the computer so they are responsible for the computers inability to process correctly."      Ywah, that other old rule, Garbage in, Garbage out.....

"It should be a computer literate shopper who writes and tests the programme."

He'd need to be literate to write it, but I would say you should use a computer ILLITERATE shopper to test it.

I think one of the problems I had was that I pulled something out of the bag, then put it back in, packing it better so I'd only need one bag.   That is the sort of thing that these @#$%^& auto-checkouts need to be able to cope with.

Re hand-scanners...I don't have a problem with the scanners, they work quite well, but the algorithms that sense whether I have put everything in the bags only after scanning need a bit of tweaking.  When the auto checkouts approach the level of friendliness and intelligence of even the dumbest checkout chick person then I'll use them, not before.

 

Crusty1
User Rank
CEO
Re: Liar
Crusty1   7/26/2014 6:04:13 AM
NO RATINGS
Hi David: To err is human.  To really stuff things up, takes a computer!


Ah well if we are chopping logic then on a circular argument humans made the computer so they are responsible for the computers inability to process correctly.

Trouble with Point of sale programmes is that they most often do not get the right people to write the algorithms. It should be a computer literate shopper who writes and tests the programme.

I remember when the first attempts at biological cell recognition was starting, that biologists did not understand computers and the computer coders did not understand biology. Got a few years of paid bidirectional translation between the biologists and the hardware / software guys.

Personally I will only shop in outlets that use hand scanners, these work well but do require an element of honesty from the shopper.

 

David Ashton
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Liar
David Ashton   7/26/2014 4:43:18 AM
NO RATINGS
Hi Crusty.  Well those point of sale checkouts cause a serious sense of humour failure on my part (maybe that is what they are aiming at :-)

If they're so damn clever, they can get a robot arm to take the items off the belt and scan them and put them in bags.  That would save them of accusing me of cheating.

And if they are so damn clever, how come they need a human to supervise them?  (Oh, sorry, that's to stop me punching the screen :-)

If we could program the genius of Dr House into a medical robot, we'd be doing well....

I suppose human beings are fairly fuzzy, logic wise.  I suppose the poor computers have a fair bit to put up with.  But there's a rule that covers most of these situations:

To err is human.  To really stuff things up, takes a computer!

 

Crusty1
User Rank
CEO
Liar
Crusty1   7/26/2014 4:14:46 AM
NO RATINGS
Hi David, Susan, From what I have seen so far in the articles and others to date, we are well on our way to allowing logical entities to start lying.

A medical autonomous robot would not do the patient much good if it said you are 99.9% certain to die from your wounds. Ethically the surgeon or nurse will easily bend logic to increase the will of the patient to live, but we all know they are lying for the best reasons?

David I think the Point of Sale check out computers get so bored with the speed of humans that they have fun with us at the till. Should we leave himour out of the autonomous robots reactions?

David Ashton
User Rank
Blogger
Re: And if they succeed....
David Ashton   7/26/2014 2:52:12 AM
NO RATINGS
HI Susan...sorry, did not realise this article was a continuation of the first one.

I tell you what DOES need some ethics - those self-serve supermarket checkouts. I tried them a couple of times but they were forever accusing me of not putting things in the bag, or taking things out of the bag, or putting extra things in the bag without checking them.   I was once about to punch the screen of the stupid thing.   They will have to get a LOT better before I use them again.   There's something for your ethical embedded programmers to start on!!

Susan Fourtané
User Rank
Blogger
Re: And if they succeed....
Susan Fourtané   7/25/2014 7:42:45 AM
NO RATINGS
David, 

That other article is the first part of this one. :) They belong to a series of articles that will be aiming at exploring current research on ethics, robotics, and AI. 

Indeed, as you and MHRackin have observed, one of the thoughts that come out from this topic is related to observing and analyzing the condition of human ethics at the moment.

And also, as I mentioned before, to consider the responsibility that working in this field should represent.

-Susan

David Ashton
User Rank
Blogger
Re: And if they succeed....
David Ashton   7/25/2014 6:19:27 AM
@mhrackin....been thinking more about your comment....I always find it astounding that while the human race has progressed so much technically, socially they seem to have gone backwards.  

David Ashton
User Rank
Blogger
Re: And if they succeed....
David Ashton   7/25/2014 5:08:28 AM
NO RATINGS
@MHRackin...that is almost identical to a comment I made on another blog about ethical autonomous robots here.  Glad to see I am not alone in my cynicism (or, as George Bernard Shaw would call it, accurate observation :-)

Susan Fourtané
User Rank
Blogger
Re: And if they succeed....
Susan Fourtané   7/25/2014 4:27:49 AM
NO RATINGS
mhrackin, 

I love your comment. I totally agree with you. That's exactly one of the points of interest in this subject.

You need to imagine that whoever is involved embedding ethical behavior into robots must have proven a high level of ethics themselves. 

That is one of the reasons why I believe embedding ethics into robots carries a lot of responsibility. 

-Susan

 

mhrackin
User Rank
CEO
And if they succeed....
mhrackin   7/24/2014 2:18:03 PM
...will they then try embedding ethical behavior into humans?  Now THAT would really be worthwhile.  It's a goal that our entire education, upbringing, and social culture "experts" seems to have largely abandoned in the past 40 years or so.

Page 1 / 2   >   >>
Most Recent Comments
Radio
NEXT UPCOMING BROADCAST
EE Times Senior Technical Editor Martin Rowe will interview EMC engineer Kenneth Wyatt.
Top Comments of the Week
Like Us on Facebook

Datasheets.com Parts Search

185 million searchable parts
(please enter a part number or hit search to begin)
EE Times on Twitter
EE Times Twitter Feed
Flash Poll