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The Ethics of Guidance Robots

Activity: Talk or presentation typesLecture and oral contribution

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Raffaele Rodogno - Lecturer

I will explore some of the ethical issues that can possibly arise by an application such as guidance robots in elderly care residences. As I understand the current design, some residents will be accompanied by robots while others will be accompanied by human carers. The first issue, that springs to mind involve perceptions of justice and self-worth. How will the resident feel about being accompanied by a robot rather than a person? Will she be indifferent, if not happy about the change, or will she feel like a second class “resident” on whom human company cannot be spared? Will she think that it is unfair that others get to be with humans but not her? Inversely, some residents may envy those who get to try chatting with the robots, while they are being denied that opportunity. A second set of issues has to do with cases where the resident is unco-operative. Human carers may have learned subtle techniques involving verbal exchanges as well as body language and light touching to nudge and persuade residents to come to the dining room when it is time. But what about the robot at issue? What is it to do when the resident refuses to leave the room or suddenly walks in the wrong direction? The third question is more general: has the relative loss of human contact a positive or negative effect (or only a negligible one) on the resident’s well-being? Is the idea that loss in some domain is to be made up in increased contact in other domains?
15 Feb 2018

Event (Conference)

TitleRobo-Philosophy 2018
LocationUniversität Wien
Degree of recognitionInternational event

ID: 153589592