Noel Sharkey, a computer scientist, is known for his expertise in robotics. Artificial intelligence and robotics have been the fields he has been known for throughout the world. In his article named ‘The Ethical Frontiers of robotics,’ Noel has raised an important issue related to the field of robotics. No doubt their services are helping human beings in many different ways, but Noel has highlighted the ethical issues associated with the help taken from robots. These ethical issues include less personal connection and the need for care judgments in certain sensitive situations. To support his claims examples from the daily life have been highlighted. With the use of anecdotes, expert sources and statistics from the history Sharkey have successfully proved the ethical issues associated with the use of the robots in everyday routine and the warfare as well.
Sharkey claimed that using robotics is no more a new idea in this era of technology where everything gets fulfilled with the desired application. From minor tasks of the daily life to the job of defending the lives of the people, everything works by the technology and its various dimensions. This fact has been supported by Sharkey using statistics. The sales of professional and personal service robots have risen from the year of 2008. I agree with Noel that our dependence on technology has been the foundation for the rise of this sale. In 2008 the sales were near to 5.5 million which rise to 11.5 million in the year 2011.
Nanotechnology and sensor technology are the technologies in which advancements are seen prominently. Japanese and South Korean people have been playing a prominent part in developing a child-minding robot. These robots are capable of doing many real things including speech recognition. While explaining the advantages of robots Sharkey has mentioned the positive things assonated with the care of children through robots. The positive stuff includes tracking the children when they are away, giving entertainment services and the arousing curiosity and interests in the children. All his positive claims about the attention of the children are justified as I have seen many infants attracted towards the technological products like tablets, iPhones, etc.
After reading the title of ‘The Ethical Frontiers of robotics’, I had an image in my mind that the text will be highlighting only the ethical issues. However, the article has mentioned so many useful claims enough for giving awareness to the new parents who rely on robots for the care of their infants and young children. No matter how much care robots give to the young children, there is still some need for the children that need to be fulfilled by the parents only. Lesser interaction with the human beings and more interaction with robots can make the young children tend towards the social isolation. This claim by Sharkey has been supported by the study of the early development of the monkeys. Social dysfunctional was seen in the infant animals who were allowed to develop interactions only with the inanimate surrogates. The sad aspect is that this possible issue has been ignored by the National legislation as well. This point needs to be discussed in public so that the negative consequences can be overcome.
Leaving elderly in the care of machines is another ethical issue highlighted by Sharkey in his text. There are many machines like Secom and Sanyo who are helping in living the elderly an independent life in their houses, but this will make the old isolated giving them significant emotional discomfort in their lives. The robots might be able to cover up the nature of the use, but the need for social interaction will be still there for the elderly and the young children. Technology is advancing in every dimension, but it is still not enough to fulfill the practical, emotional needs of the human beings. I believe Sharkey’s claim is justified since I can never imagine life with the absence of social interaction and dependence on the technology for every single thing.
The set of ethical issues raised by the use of robots in the military application has also been highlighted by Sharkey in his writing. Starting with the ethical issues associated with the use of robots in military Sharkey starts off with the development of mobile robots which were more than 5000 in number for the forces of Iraq. He then highlights that since these robots have humans behind for the decision making and they are capable of targeting the areas unconventionally hence there are many chances for the innocent human beings to get destroyed during military attacks. He justifies his claim by mentioning the examples of MQ1 Predator and MQ9 Reapers. The threatening aspect over here is that the presence of single unclear definition in the programming of the robot can make them creates complex situations which can be hard to overcome.
To conclude, Sharkey has shown his concern for the human race by mentioning the set of issues associated with leaving young children and elderly among the robots. This will make them socially awkward and destroy their emotional needs. No doubt they are providing excellent ease to them as well. Besides this, the use of robots in the military can create unwanted situation destroying human races in a minute. However, this issue needs to be discussed publicly so that possible ethical problems can be overcome and advantages can be taken from them as well.
Sharkey, N. (2008). The Ethical Frontiers of Robotics (5th ed.). Department of Computer Science, University of Sheffield, Retrieved from http://science.sciencemag.org/content/sci/322/5909/1800.full.pdf?sid=33ebd420-90e8-4c20-9bd4-8a75298f132d