Reference Work Entry

Springer Handbook of Robotics

pp 1499-1524

Roboethics: Social and Ethical Implications of Robotics

  • Gianmarco VeruggioAffiliated withIstituto di Elettronica e di Ingegneria dellʼInformazione e delle Telecomunicazioni, Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche Email author 
  • , Fiorella OpertoAffiliated withScuola di Robotica Email author 


The present chapter outlines the main social and ethical issues raised by the ever-faster application of robots to our daily life, and especially to sensitive human areas.

Applied to society in numbers and volumes larger than today, robotics is going to trigger widespread social and economic changes, opening new social and ethical problems for which the designers, the end user, the public, and private policy must now be prepared.

Starting from a philosophical and sociological review of the depth and extent of the two lemmas of robotics and robot, this section summarizes the recent facts and issues about the relationship between techno-science and ethics.

The new applied ethics, called roboethics, is presented. It was put forward in 2001/2002, and publicly discussed in 2004 during the First International Symposium on Roboethics.

Some of the issues presented in the chapter are well known to engineers, and less or not known to scholars of humanities, and vice versa. However, because the subject is complex, articulated, and often misrepresented, some of the fundamental concepts relating ethics in science and technology are recalled and clarified.

At the conclusion of the chapter is presented a detailed taxonomy of the most significant ethical legal, and societal issues in Robotics. This study is based on the Euron Roboethics Roadmap, and it is the result of three years of discussions and research by and among roboticists and scholars of Humanities. This taxonomy identifies the most evident/urgent/sensitive ethical problems in the main applicative fields of robotics, leaving deeper analysis to further studies.