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Ethical principles for Designers, Builders and Users of Robots


In 2011 the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPRSC) and the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), both of which are based in Swindon, England,   published five ethical principles for designers, builders and users of robots in the real world, along with seven "high-level messages" supplementing the five ethical principles. The five ethical principles were:

  1. "Robots should not be designed solely or primarily to kill or harm humans.
  2. Humans, not robots, are responsible agents. Robots are tools designed to achieve human goals.
  3. Robots should be designed in ways that assure their safety and security.
  4. Robots are artifacts; they should not be designed to exploit vulnerable users by evoking an emotional response or dependency. It should always be possible to tell a robot from a human.
  5. It should always be possible to find out who is legally responsible for a robot."

The seven "high-level messages" supplementing the five principles were:

  1. "We believe robots have the potential to provide immense positive impact to society. We want to encourage responsible robot research.
  2. Bad practice hurts us all.
  3. Addressing obvious public concerns will help us all make progress.
  4. It is important to demonstrate that we, as roboticists, are committed to the best possible standards of practice.
  5. To understand the context and consequences of our research, we should work with experts from other disciplines, including: social sciences, law, philosophy and the arts.
  6. We should consider the ethics of transparency: are there limits to what should be openly available?
  7. When we see erroneous accounts in the press, we commit to take the time to contact the reporting journalists" (Wikipedia article on Laws of Robotics, accessed 10-20-2013).

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