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Open Roboethics Initiative


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The Open Roboethics initiative (ORi) is a roboethics thinktank that explores different ways to bring together and engage robotics stakeholders so that their feedback can inform the process of making robotics-related design and policy decisions. Headquartered at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada, ORi is an interdisciplinary, international group of people passionate about roboethics in general.



On Friday November 13th, AJung Moon from the Open Roboethics initiative (ORi) delivered a statement at the United Nations Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) Meeting of States Parties.

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The majority of people are against the use of autonomous weapons capable of identifying and destroying targets without human input, according to a new survey by researchers at the University of British Columbia. 

Photo by Paul Ridgeway.
Photo by Paul Ridgeway.

Should robots be allowed to make life and death decisions? This will be the topic of heated debate at the United Nations (UN) Palais des Nations in Geneva next week (April 13-17th, 2015). As part of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW), experts from all over the world will gather to discuss questions related to emerging technologies in the area of lethal autonomous weapons systems.” Take our public survey on the topic to voice your opinion. 

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In a care scenario, a robot may have been purchased by the patient, by the doctor or hospital (which sent it home with the patient to monitor their health), or by a concerned family member who wants to monitor their relative. In the latest ORi poll we looked at people’s attitudes about whether a care robot should prioritize its owner’s wishes over those of the patient. Here are the results.

In a care scenario, a robot may have been purchased by the patient, by the hospital (which sent it home with the patient to monitor their health), or by a concerned family member who wants to monitor their relative. Should a care robot prioritize its owner’s wishes over those of the patient?

The number of people aged 65+ is on the rise, and so is the number of robotics projects that hope to avert the impending care crisis by augmenting or substituting human caregivers with robotic ones. But how much time are we comfortable letting our seniors spend with robots?

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We have a tall order when it comes to dreaming up a trustworthy care robot: a robot could clean the house, find and fetch objects, and even keep seniors company. But if robots take on so many daily care tasks for the elderly, is it possible that seniors will have to interact with them too much? Is there such a thing as a socially acceptable amount of interaction with a care robot? Let us know what you think as we continue our reader polls about care robots.

Data from our latest poll suggest that readers are optimistic about the role of robots as care assistants for senior members of their families. The majority of our participants were of the opinion that robots will enable seniors to socialize with other people better, using teleconferencing systems such as Skype/FaceTime. However, opinions are split on whether robots themselves will be able to keep seniors company.

A robot hands a medication bottle to a person. Photo credit: Keith Bujak. Source: Georgia Tech News Center
A robot hands a medication bottle to a person. Photo credit: Keith Bujak. Source: Georgia Tech News Center

One of the driving forces of social, interactive robotics is the issue of impending labour shortage, which is projected to be one of the major and inevitable consequences of the ageing population phenomenon.

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Previously we focused our poll discussions on robots that will enter our domestic environment. But what if the environment that surrounds is itself becoming robotic? In our latest poll, we looked at the topic of smart homes.

While the past decade has witnessed the emergence of various prototypes and research projects involving bathing robots, the public acceptance of the concept seems to largely depend on one socially sensitive topic: privacy.

As our homes become increasingly automated, will we eventually be living inside what is essentially a robot? Given that smart homes can collect data and learn about your daily habits, and come up with the optimum time to turn on/off different devices in the home, what should this giant robot optimize for?

Bathing is typically a private activity, and having a robot to accommodate that privacy could be a good thing. But how much does this trump over the need to control the robot?

While 75% of readers said that they’d want a robot “to help me with house chores” vs. only 19% who said they would want one as a companion for themselves or their family, the majority see the whole family, including their parents/grandparents and children, as benefitting from home robots in the future.

While vacuum robots continue to dominate the ‘robots at home’ market, with Jibo taking on the role of the top 5 most funded Indiegogo crowd-funding campaign, and Pepper expected to arrive at stores in Japan in early 2015, there’s a lot of excitement about interactive, social or ‘companion‘ robots entering our homes.

Looking into the near future, what do you think about robots being developed for your home or being present as a companion? Share your thoughts with us now; we’ll report our findings in two weeks.