Ethics and Information Technology

, Volume 20, Issue 4, pp 291–301 | Cite as

Why robots should not be treated like animals

  • Deborah G. Johnson
  • Mario VerdicchioEmail author
Original Paper


Responsible Robotics is about developing robots in ways that take their social implications into account, which includes conceptually framing robots and their role in the world accurately. We are now in the process of incorporating robots into our world and we are trying to figure out what to make of them and where to put them in our conceptual, physical, economic, legal, emotional and moral world. How humans think about robots, especially humanoid social robots, which elicit complex and sometimes disconcerting reactions, is not predetermined. The animal–robot analogy is one of the most commonly used in attempting to frame interactions between humans and robots and it also tends to push in the direction of blurring the distinction between humans and machines. We argue that, despite some shared characteristics, when it comes to thinking about the moral status of humanoid robots, legal liability, and the impact of treatment of humanoid robots on how humans treat one another, analogies with animals are misleading.


Ethics Robots Humanoids Animals Robot law 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of VirginiaCharlottesvilleUSA
  2. 2.Università degli Studi di BergamoBergamoItaly

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