Lee Billings in Seed Magazine:
In April, the government of Japan released more than 60 pages of recommendations to “secure the safe performance of next-generation robots,” which called for a centralized database to log all robot-inflicted human injuries. That same month, the European Robotics Research Network (EURON) updated its “Roboethics Roadmap,” a document broadly listing the ethical implications of projected developments like robotic surgeons, soldiers, and sex workers. And in March, South Korea provided a sneak peek at its “Robot Ethics Charter” slated for release later in 2007. The charter envisioned a near future wherein humans may run the risk of becoming emotionally dependent on or addicted to their robots.
The close timing of these three developments reflects a sudden upswing in international awareness that the pace of progress in robotics is rapidly propelling these fields into uncharted ethical realms. Gianmarco Veruggio, the Genoa University roboticist who organized the first international roboethics conference in 2004, says, “We are close to a robotics invasion.”