Survey-Based Discussions on Morally Contentious Applications of Interactive Robotics
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- Moon, A., Danielson, P. & Van der Loos, H.F.M. Int J of Soc Robotics (2012) 4: 77. doi:10.1007/s12369-011-0120-0
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Introduction: As applications of robotics extend to areas that directly impact human life, such as the military and eldercare, the deployment of autonomous and semi-autonomous robots increasingly requires the input of stakeholder opinions. Up to now, technological deployment has been relying on the guidance of government/military policy and the healthcare system without specific incorporation of professional and lay opinion. Methods: This paper presents results from a roboethics study that uses the unique N-Reasons scenario-based survey instrument. The instrument collected Yes, No, Neutral responses from more than 250 expert and lay responders via the Internet along with their ethics-content reasons for the answers, allowing the respondents to agree to previously-provided reasons or to write their own. Data from three questions relating to military and eldercare robots are analyzed qualitatively and quantitatively. Results: The survey reveals that respondents weigh the appropriateness of robotics technology deployment in concert with the level of autonomy conferred upon it. The accepted level of robot autonomy does not appear to be solely dependent on the perceived efficiency and effectiveness of the technology, but is subject to the robot’s relationship with the public’s principle-based reasons and the application field in focus. Conclusion: The N-Reasons instrument was effective in eliciting ethical commentary in a simple, on-line survey format and provides insights into the interactions between the issues that respondents consider across application and technology boundaries.