Wednesday, March 07, 2007
An ethical code for robots
This is the stuff of the future... or the not so distant future, it seems. South Korean experts are drawing up an ethical code for robots to ensure their - and our - welfare. Is it enough to prevent robots harming humans and humans harming robots? If robots ever achieve a similar intellectual state - would it be advisable to suggest, or even dictate, a moral code which covers actions, honesty, speech etc...
Should this kind of moral behaviour be preprogrammed, or should robots benefit from as much freedom, and the chance to learn from their own experiences, as us? (Although they undoubtedly will find a way to break their programming, as in all the good science fiction movies.) If not, should we not reprogram ourselves? I could indulge in a bit of hardcore hypnotherapy to ensure that I act perfectly morally and soundly - then I'd be some kind of super human that you could all emulate. Although I wouldn't have achieved any level of awareness or understanding, and perhaps that's the key.
Interestingly, the super team drawing up this ethical code include futurists (whatever they are) and a science fiction writer. Would it be useful to have a representative from each religion - then we could have moral, compassionate robots with an acceptance of all religions and none. Wow. Then they'd be better than us. This blog has some unique suggestions as to what the 'bot's code of conduct could be.
One of the robot team has fears of a robot on human action, 'Imagine if some people treat androids as if the machines were their wives.' Would this be wrong? How would it differ from sex toys, or cyber sex? Human beings have been unecessary companions for a while now. Most techno-with-it people communicate and hang out with other beings on the web, virtual friends are as popular as 3D ones. I suspect with the rapid advancement of technology, ethical dilemmas such as these will become more important. Until then, we can just laugh at the techno-nerds.