Cornell University
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Ethical Issues in Intelligent Autonomous Systems: Robot Ethics

INFO 2750

Instructor: Doing.P


Grade:Stdnt Opt

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 difference from and interactions with humans. Indeed, the emergence of such machines pushes a long running philosophical question to the fore: can ethics be codified an algorithm (as in Isaac Asimov’s three laws of robotics)? 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 valley, 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, thus the class is also an overview of robotic applications in society.