Cornell University
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Ethical Issues in Intelligent Autonomous Systems: Robot Ethics

INFO 2750

Fall. 3 credits. Graded.

P. Doing

As technologies and algorithms that can autonomously make decisions and act on those decisions become more and more prevalent, questions arise as to the moral and ethical aspects of their interactions with society.   What are the philosophical bases for a new Robot Ethics?  The rapid emergence of smart, active machines is pushing a long running philosophical question regarding human – robot interaction to the fore: can ethics be codified an algorithm (as in Isaac Asimov’s three laws of robotics) and if so how?  To engage this fundamental question, this course explores present day human-robot interactions and speculates into the future as to what such interactions could, and should, look like.  Topics covered include therapeutic robotics, search and rescue, surveillance, military decision making, financial market interactions, entertainment (including robot composers), the uncanny divide, automation, medical robotics, policing, swarms, robot smog, and attention dilution.  For each of these topics, different moral and ethical aspects of human-robot interaction will be analyzed.  In each case, understanding the actual technological capabilities of the robots in question is crucial to assessing the ethics of their use today, and to realistically predicting future uses and issues.

Crosslisted as ECE 2750, ENGRG 2750, STS 2751