Ethics of robotics and ethics of human-robot interaction
The use of robots in therapeutic contexts raises several ethical issues. Some considerations are obvious, although not necessarily easy to address: the robot should be human-friendly, it should not harm humans, and it should be able to achieve the therapeutic aim for which it is designed and used (the diagnosis and treatment of autism) – it should be functional and effective in this sense. Other ethical questions are particularly important in the context of the sensitive data on individual medical case histories. The degree of autonomy to be afforded to the robot is another key issue. The more autonomous the robot, the less control therapist, parents, robot operator/designer etc. have over the robot-child interaction and this then raises the issue of who is responsible for the robot’s actions and behaviours. Autonomy also raises the problem of trust: are parents happy to leave their child ‘in the hands of the robot’? Will the child trust the robot? These questions will be approached during the development of the DREAM project.