Robot Code of Ethics to Prevent Android Abuse, Protect Humans

Stefan Lovgren
for National Geographic News
March 16, 2007

The government of South Korea is drawing up a code of ethics to prevent human abuse of robots—and vice versa.

The so-called Robot Ethics Charter will cover standards for robotics users and manufacturers, as well as guidelines on ethical standards to be programmed into robots, South Korea's Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy announced last week.

"The move anticipates the day when robots, particularly intelligent service robots, could become a part of daily life as greater technological advancements are made," the ministry said in a statement.

A five-member task force that includes futurists and a science-fiction writer began work on the charter last November.

Gianmarco Veruggio of the School of Robotics in Genoa, Italy, is recognized as a leading authority on roboethics.

"Robotics is a new science with a manifold of applications that can assist humans and solve many, many problems," he said.

"However, as in every field of science and technology, sensitive areas open up, and it is the specific responsibility of the scientists who work in this field to face this new array of social and ethical problems."

Abusing Robots

South Korea boasts one of the world's most high-tech societies.

The country's Ministry of Information and Communication is working on plans to put a robot in every South Korean household by 2020.

The new charter is part of an effort to establish ground rules for human interaction with robots in the future.

"Imagine if some people treat androids as if the machines were their wives," Park Hye-Young of the ministry's robot team told the AFP news agency.

Continued on Next Page >>




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