The Government of South Korea, reports the BBC, has launched a project to develop a Robot Ethics Charter “to prevent humans abusing robots, and vice versa.” The Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy declared: “The government plans to set ethical guidelines concerning the roles and functions of robots as robots are expected to develop strong intelligence in the near future.” A member of the ministry’s “robot team” gave a sense of the dilemmas that lie in store as robotic beings get smarter and more flexible: “Imagine if some people treat androids as if the machines were their wives.” (Do I have to?) “Others may get addicted to interacting with them just as many internet users get hooked to the cyberworld.”
The European Robotics Research Network is also in the process of developing ethical guidelines for robot use. A draft of the guidelines states, “In the 21st Century humanity will coexist with the first alien intelligence we have ever come into contact with – robots. It will be an event rich in ethical, social and economic problems.” That strikes me as an awfully human-centric view. What we see as problems our robot friends will recognize as opportunities.