Robotics, Ethics, and Nanotechnology

  • Jean-Gabriel GanasciaEmail author


It may seem out of character to find a chapter on robotics in a book about nanotechnology, and even more so a chapter on the application of ethics to robots. Indeed, as we shall see, the questions look quite different in these two fields, i.e., in robotics and nanoscience. In short, in the case of robots, we are dealing with artificial beings endowed with higher cognitive faculties, such as language, reasoning, action, and perception, whereas in the case of nano-objects, we are talking about invisible macromolecules which act, move, and duplicate unseen to us. In one case, we find ourselves confronted by a possibly evil double of ourselves, and in the other, a creeping and intangible nebula assails us from all sides. In one case, we are faced with an alter ego which, although unknown, is clearly perceptible, while in the other, an unspeakable ooze, the notorious grey goo, whose properties are both mysterious and sinister, enters and immerses us. This leads to a shift in the ethical problem situation: the notion of responsibility can no longer be worded in the same terms because, despite its otherness, the robot can always be located somewhere, while in the case of nanotechnologies, myriad nanometric objects permeate everywhere, disseminating uncontrollably.


Information Entropy Information Ethic Space Robot Virtual Robot Domestic Robot 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Laboratoire d’informatique de Paris 6 (LIP6)Université Paris 6 Pierre and Marie CurieParis Cedex 05France

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