Just Ordinary Robots : Automation from Love to War book cover
1st Edition

Just Ordinary Robots
Automation from Love to War

ISBN 9781482260144
Published September 4, 2015 by CRC Press
352 Pages - 37 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

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.

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


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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).


"Just Ordinary Robots: Automation from Love to War examines 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