Roboethics: Social and Ethical Implications

  • Gianmarco Veruggio
  • Fiorella Operto
  • George Bekey


This chapter outlines the main developments of roboethics 9 years after a worldwide debate on the subject – that is, the applied ethics about ethical, legal, and societal aspects of robotics – opened up. Today, roboethics not only counts several thousands of voices on the Web, but is the issue of important literature relating to almost all robotics applications, and of hundreds of rich projects, workshops, and conferences. This increasing interest and sometimes even fierce debate expresses the perception and need of scientists, manufacturers, and users of professional guidelines and ethical indications about robotics in society.

Some of the issues presented in the chapter are well known to engineers, and less known or unknown to scholars of humanities, and vice versa. However, because the subject is transversal to many disciplines, complex, articulated, and often misrepresented, some of the fundamental concepts relating to ethics in science and technology are recalled and clarified.

A detailed taxonomy of sensitive areas is presented. It is based on a study of several years and referred to by scientists and scholars, the result of which is the Euron Roboethics Roadmap. This taxonomy identifies the most evident/urgent/sensitive ethical problems in the main applicative fields of robotics, leaving more in-depth research to further studies.


Ethical Theory Humanoid Robot Autonomous Underwater Vehicle Service Robot Robot Interaction 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



autonomous combat flying vehicle


autonomous flying vehicle


artificial intelligence


Association for Computing Machinery


autonomous underwater vehicle


coordination action for robotics in Europe


computer-aided tomography


computer ethic


Computer Ethics Philosophical Enquiry


Commission mondiale d’éthique des connaissances scientifiques et des technologies


Computer Professional for Social Responsibility


ethical, legal and societal


European Robotics Research Network


Food and Agriculture Organization


global positioning system


International Association of Bioethics


International Association for Computing and Philosophy


information and communication technology


improvised explosive device


information ethics


International Federation of Robotics


International Labor Organization


International Organization for Standardization


Massachusetts Institute of Technology


nuclear magnetic resonance


Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development


open roboethics initiative


privacy, accuracy, intellectual property, and access


positron emission tomography


responsible conduct of research


science fiction


Stanford Research Institute


technical committee


unmanned aerial vehicle


unmanned ground vehicle


United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gianmarco Veruggio
    • 1
  • Fiorella Operto
    • 2
  • George Bekey
    • 3
  1. 1.Institute of Electronics, Computer and Telecommunication EngineeringNational Research Council (CNR)GenoaItaly
  2. 2.Scuola di RoboticaGenoaItaly
  3. 3.Department of Computer ScienceUniversity of Southern CaliforniaArroyo GrandeUSA

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