Robots are becoming more pervasive, not just in industrial environments, but in our homes, hospitals, airports, and shops. So-called cyber-physical systems (CPS) are intelligent robotic systems that are linked via IoT to allow AI-powered robots to interact with the physical world.
As robots interact more frequently with humans, the ethics of such engagements has been an ongoing topic of conversation. As such, a recent EU-led study should be of interest.
The project explores some of the current and potential ethical concerns around our use of robots, and indeed some of the unintended consequences of the technology as it evolves. Ultimately, it hopes to support the European Parliament, and through them the individual member states, as they deliberate the best policy framework for robotics and AI now and in the future.
The study began by performing horizon scanning to better understand the technical trends and their potential social, ethical, environmental, economic, political, and demographic impact.
The researchers then began looking at the soft impacts of robotics and produced a number of scenarios surrounding concerns the public may have around the use of AI and robotics. This was followed up by a legal backcasting process, which generated a briefing for the European Parliament exploring the legal instruments that may need modifying to better manage the various scenarios generated.
Suffice to say, it isn’t always easy to provide a legal response to some of the impacts CPS may have on society, and there is always the risk that policy makers understanding of the issues lags behind developments in the field. This kind of forward-looking process is crucial therefore to ensure officials are on top of things.
Check out the video below to learn more about the project, or click the link at the start of this post to download the full paper.