HUM-384 / 2 credits
Teacher: Rochel Johan Robert
This course enables students to sharpen their proficiency in tackling ethical challenges linked to robots. Students acquire the competence to define a robot and identify ethical and legal questions linked to technology and to the increased use of robots in society.
The ethics of robots: addressing societal and legal challenges
The increasing production and use of “robots” raises numerous ethical, legal and societal questions. These range from conceptual issues (“What is a robot?”) to technological-ethical issues (“How should robots act?”) and to societal-political issues (“What if robots are widely deployed?”) and legal questions (“How should accountability be handled in regard to robots and AI?”). The focus of attention has long been on military robots but the deployment of robotic technology in all areas of society dramatically increases the number of issues that call for an answer.
The following issues will be dealt with:
- What is a robot?
- Can robots truly act autonomously?
- Who is responsible for the actions of robots?
- What are the most pressing ethical questions for the different types of robots?
- How does the law deal with these questions?
- How should we design robots in order to overcome ethical challenges?
- How should we address the consequences of the wide deployment of robots?
robots, ethics, law, innovation, responsibility
- interdisciplinary perspective
- citizen perspective
By the end of the course, the student must be able to:
- Define the concept of robots
- Define the different contexts in which the concept is used
- Assess / Evaluate the distinct thematic challenges raised in specific contexts of the uses(or applications) of robots: military, medical, service, transportation, and logistics
- Systematize these contexts with explicit design requirements and their ethical justifications
- Identify the broader justice issues raised by the wide deployment of robotic technology
- Assess / Evaluate the different senses/conceptions/interpretations of agency, autonomy and responsibility in the context of robots
- Interpret current social/legal challenges
- Demonstrate the capacity for critical thinking
- Write a scientific or technical report.
- Take account of the social and human dimensions of the engineering profession.
The course will be organized as an interactive and participative course. Students have to read texts for each session and to be ready for critical discussion.
Expected student activities
weekly reading of preparatory texts
active participation in class
writing of papers
Students will be assessed twice :
- One-pager including the key elements of a preparatory text – 30% of the grade
- Short paper on a freely chosen issue (or topic) (5-7 pages) - 70% of the grade
Lin, P., Abney, K. and Bekey, G. A. eds., 2014. Robot Ethics: The Ethical and Social Implications of Robotics. London, MIT Press
Ford, M., 2015. Rise of the Robots: Technlogy and the Threat of Jobless Future. New York, Basic Books.
Ressources en bibliothèque
In the programs
- Semester: Fall
- Exam form: During the semester (winter session)
- Subject examined: The ethics of robots
- Lecture: 2 Hour(s) per week x 14 weeks