How to make ethical robots

From PhysOrg:

RobotethicsIn the future according to robotics researchers, robots will likely fight our wars, care for our elderly, babysit our children, and serve and entertain us in a wide variety of situations. But as robotic development continues to grow, one subfield of robotics research is lagging behind other areas: roboethics, or ensuring that robot behavior adheres to certain moral standards. In a new paper that provides a broad overview of ethical behavior in robots, researchers emphasize the importance of being proactive rather than reactive in this area.

The big question, according to the researchers, is how we can ensure that future robotic technology preserves our humanity and our societies’ values. They explain that, while there is no simple answer, a few techniques could be useful for enforcing ethical behavior in robots. One method involves an “ethical governor,” a name inspired by the mechanical governor for the steam engine, which ensured that the powerful engines behaved safely and within predefined bounds of performance. Similarly, an ethical governor would ensure that robot behavior would stay within predefined ethical bounds. For example, for autonomous military robots, these bounds would include principles derived from the Geneva Conventions and other rules of engagement that humans use. Civilian robots would have different sets of bounds specific to their purposes.

More here.