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Ethics of Human Interaction with Robotic, Bionic, and AI Systems
Concepts and Policies

workshop supported by the ETHICBOTS European Project
International Workshop - Naples , 17-18 October, 2006
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Robots - From Slaves Towards Companions? On Media Politics, Ethics and Technology Design in the Field of Human-Robot Interaction

Jutta Weber

For a long time robots were mostly regarded as ‘slaves', as tools constructed to substitute human labour in a faster or better way. In new emerging technosciences such as social robotics, Embodied Conversational Agents or Human-Robot Interaction (HRI) we can observe a tendency to build intelligent artefacts that are meant to be ‘social' and ‘emotional', to learn and to develop a personality including social competencies. Robots with applications in the field of care, entertainment, leisure or education are conceptualised as understanding partners, life-long companions and real friends.

In my talk I will analyse recent theoretical models of man-machine communication like master/slave, caregiver/infant, pet/owner and the promises inscribed in new HRI technologies. What kind of functions are the latter supposed to have? I will discuss whether the various tasks promised in many research agendas and media representations are realistic goals.

In the end I want to stress the importance of cooperative and interdisciplinary technology design as well as contextualized and situated approaches of ethics to improve the development of social interaction.

list of abstracts - workshop home page