Just Ordinary Robots: Automation from Love to War, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Just Ordinary Robots

Automation from Love to War, 1st Edition

By Lamber Royakkers, Rinie van Est

CRC Press

352 pages | 37 B/W Illus.

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pub: 2015-09-04
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A social robot is a robot that interacts and communicates with humans or other autonomous physical agents by following social behaviors and rules attached to its role. We seem to accept the use of robots that perform dull, dirty, and dangerous jobs. But how far do we want to go with the automation of care for children and the elderly, or the killing of terrorists? Would we be setting humanity aside if we accepted such automation?

Just Ordinary Robots: Automation from Love to War provides a socially involved, yet sober, view into the new age of robots. It supplies a cutting-edge look at robot technologies, including what these technologies are capable of and the ethical and regulatory questions they raise.

The book surveys the various types of social robots and examines their social significance in homes, health care, traffic, the police, and the military. Considering the technical characteristics and societal expectations of robots in these areas, it explores what is possible right now in terms of robot technologies. It also looks into the social, ethical, and regulatory issues future robot technologies will create.

The text provides authoritative insights into the social significance of robots for the medium and long term. Illustrating the political, administrative, and regulatory consequences related to each area, it highlights key points that need to be publicly discussed or put on the agenda by today’s politicians and policy makers.


"Just Ordinary Robots: Automation from Love to Warexamines the social significance of the new generation of five types of robots: the home robot, the care robot, police and private drones, the car robot, and the military robot. … This book is the result of many years of research by the Rathenau Institute, The Netherlands’ key research and debating center for science, technology, and society. In 2012, this research led to the publication of the Dutch book Overal Robots (Robots Everywhere), written by Lambèr Royakkers, Floortje Daemen, and Rinie van Est. This book is an updated and drastically revised version of that book."

—From the Book’s Foreword by Frans Brom, Head of Technology Assessment, Rathenau Institute, The Hague, The Netherlands

Table of Contents

Robots Everywhere

With Vision

Technically Speaking

From Automata to Robots

Robot-Friendly Environments

Robot Body

Robot Brain

Networked Robots and Human-Based Computing

Seen Socially

Information Technology

Lifelike Appearance

Level of Autonomy

Robotization as Rationalization

More Explorations

Interview with Luciano Floridi (Philosopher and Ethicist of Information at Oxford University)


Home Is Where the Robot Is: Mechanoids, Humanoids, and Androids


Mechanoid Robots: The Vacuum Cleaner

Experiences of Early Adaptors: Roombarization

Reducing Complexity of Household Tasks

Liability of Home Robots

Humanoid Robots: The Companion

Robot Body

Human–Robot Interaction

Social De-Skilling

Android Robots: The Sex Robot


Benefits of Sex Robots

Social and Ethical Issues

Observational Conclusions

Household Robots

Companion and Sex Robots

Interview with Kerstin Dautenhahn (Professor of Artificial Intelligence, University of Hertfordshire, United Kingdom)


Taking Care of Our Parents: The Role of Domotics and Robots


Domotics for Care for the Elderly

Paradigmatic Shift in Care

Ethical Issues

From Home Robotics to Robots in the Home

Increasing the Pace of the Paradigmatic Shift in Care

General Ethical Issues Relating to Care Robots

Specific Ethical Issues with Regard to the Role of Care Robots

Robot as Companion

Robot as Cognitive Assistant of the Care Recipient

Robot as (Supporter of the) Caregiver

Observational Conclusions: The Long Term

Interview with Hans Rietman (Professor of Physical

Medicine and Rehabilitation, University of Twente)


Drones in the City: Toward a Floating Robotic Panopticon?

Introduction: Amazon PrimeAir

Civil Applications of Drones

Recreational Use

Drone Journalism

Precision Farming

Drones for Law Enforcement


Tasks of Police Drones

Examples of Police Drones

Legal and Ethical Issues


Aerial Safety

Improper Operations

Hacking of Drones

Drone Hunting


Reasonable Expectation of Privacy


Big Brother Drone Is Watching You

Chilling Effect

Regulations of Drones

Regulations in the United States Governments

Regulations in the European Union

Proliferation of Drone Regulations

Concluding Observations: Drones Create a Floating Robotic Panopticon

Interview with Mark Wiebes (Innovation Manager with the Dutch National Police)


Who Drives the Car?


Problems for Modern Road Traffic and Their Costs

Traffic Victims

Traffic Congestion


Driver Assistance Systems (Levels 1 and 2)


Adaptive Cruise Control System and Stop-and-Go Systems

Pedestrians’ and Cyclists’ Airbag

Pre crash System

Limited Self-Driving Automation (Level 3)

Traffic Management

Cooperative Systems

Cooperative Driving

Autonomous Car (Level 4)


AutoNOMOS and the Remotely Controlled Community Taxi

Social and Ethical Issues Surrounding Car Robotization



Security and Safety

Better Driver


Legislation for Limited and Full Self-Driving

Concluding Observations

Short Term: Driver Assistance Systems (Levels 1 and 2)

Medium Term: Cooperative Systems (Level 3)

Long Term: Autonomous Car (Level 4)

Interview with Bryant Walker Smith (Assistant Professor of

Law, University of South Carolina)


Armed Military Drones: The Ethics behind Various Degrees of Autonomy

Focus on Teleoperated and Autonomous Armed

Military Robots

Unarmed Military Robots

Armed Military Robots

Autonomy of Military Robots Is High on the Agenda

Military Robots and International Humanitarian Law

Tele-Led Drones

Autonomous Drones

Question of Responsibility

Responsibility of Manufacturers

Responsibility of Human Operators

Responsibility of the Commanding Officer

Proliferation and Security

Concluding Remarks

Social and Ethical Issues


Interview with Jürgen Altmann (Physicist and Peace Researcher at TU Dortmund University)


Automation from Love to War

Future Expectations and Technical Possibilities

Influential Strong AI Pipe Dream

Successful and Pragmatic Weak AI Approach

Exploring Artificial Social Intelligence

Exploring Artificial Moral Intelligence

Expected Social Gains

Robots as Information Technology

Monitoring and Privacy

Safety, Cyber Security, and Misuse

Lifelike Appearance of Social Robots

Degree of Autonomy of Robots

Systems View on Responsibility and Liability

Man in the Loop

Man on the Loop

Man Out of the Loop

Robot Systems as Dehumanizing Systems

Undermining Human Dignity

Undermining Human Sustainability

Current Relevance

Governance of Robotics in Society

Putting Users at the Center

Political and Regulatory Issues

Balancing Precaution and Proaction




About the Authors

Lambèr Royakkers is an associate professor in ethics and technology at the Department School of Innovation Sciences of the Eindhoven University of Technology, The Netherlands. He has studied mathematics, philosophy, and law. In 1996, he obtained his PhD on the logic of legal norms. During the past few years, he has done research and published in the following areas: military ethics, robo-ethics, deontic logic, and the moral responsibility in research networks. He was project leader of the research program "Moral Fitness of Military Personnel in a Networked Operational Environment" (2009–2014) from The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO). His research has an interdisciplinary character and is on the interface between ethics, law, and technology.

He is also involved in a European project, as chairman of the Ethics Advisory Board of the FP7-project SUBCOP (SUicide Bomber COunteraction and Prevention, 2013–2016). He has authored and coauthored more than 10 books, including Ethics, Engineering and Technology (Wiley-Blackwell, 2011) and Moral Responsibility and the Problem of Many Hands (Taylor & Francis Group 2015).

Rinie van Est is a research coordinator and "trendcatcher" with the Rathenau Institute’s Technology Assessment division. He has a background in applied physics and political science. At the Rathenau Institute, he is primarily concerned with emerging technologies such as nanotechnology, cognitive sciences, persuasive technology, robotics, and synthetic biology. In addition to his work for the Rathenau Institute, he lectures on technology assessment and foresight at the School of Innovation Sciences of the Eindhoven University of Technology. He has contributed to some recent studies: Check In/ Check Out: The Public Space as an Internet of Things (2011), European Governance Challenges in Bio-Engineering – Making Perfect Life: Bio-Engineering (in) the 21st Century (2012), Energy in 2030 (2013), Intimate Technology: The Battle for Our Body and Behavior (2014).

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Public Policy / General
TECHNOLOGY & ENGINEERING / Electronics / General