Robots and Society

Essay by iamurimHigh School, 10th gradeA+, March 2005

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The application of rapidly advancing fields of software and hardware engineering and biotechnology to recreate life or intelligence raises ethical and social issues. There is an ethical responsibility on the part of the creator to ensure that the robot or virtual pet causes no harm. There is also the impact of new technology on society. On the one hand, replacing people with robots may reduce labour costs and contribute to unemployment in society, but new jobs in the information technology industry are created.

Ethical Implications

Robots appeared in fiction as early as 1917, and by the 1920s writers were already depicting the robot as a mechanical worker or servant that could be either an aid or a menace to humanity. The word robot was first used in the 1921 play R U R (Rossum's Universal Robots), by Czech writer, Karel Capek. Remember that in Mary Shelley's novel Dr Frankenstein was so terrified of his creation that he ran away, leaving the 'monster' to fend for himself, with nobody to care for him and teach him.

The creation carried out a terrible plan of revenge on its maker. The message in this is a question of ethics. If we start making creatures that are alive and intelligent, then we have to start thinking about how we will treat them, or suffer the consequences.

Three Laws of Robotics:

In I, Robot Isaac Asimov discussed the behaviour and thoughts of robots and devised Three Laws of Robotics. A robot:

may not injure a human being, or, through inaction, allow a human to come to harm.

must obey orders given to him by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.

must protect its own existence, as long as such protection does not conflict with the First...