Ethical issues for robotics and autonomous systems

UK Robotics and Autonomous Systems Network (2019)
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There are unusual challenges in ethics for RAS. Perhaps the issue can best be summarised as needing to consider “technically informed ethics”. The technology of RAS raises issues that have an ethical dimension, and perhaps uniquely so due to the possibility of moving human decision-making which is implicitly ethically informed to computer systems. Further, if seeking solutions to these problems – ethically aligned design, to use the IEEE’s terminology – then the solutions must be technically meaningful, capable of realisation, capable of assurance, and suitable as a basis for regulation. Thus, ethics for RAS is a rich, complex multi-disciplinary concern, and perhaps more complex than many other ethical issues facing society today. It is also fast-moving. This paper has endeavoured to give an accessible introduction to some of the key issues, noting that many of them are quite subtle, and it is not possible to do them full justice in such a short document. However, we have sought to counterbalance this by giving an extensive list of initiatives, standards, etc. that focus on ethics of RAS and AI, see Annex A.
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