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IT Ethics: Relationships With Robots

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Question:

Discuss about the IT Ethics for Relationships with Robots.

 

Answer:

In the Future, Humans Will Form Romantic Relationships with Robots

The ethical and the morality theories assist a person in judging the morality of an action. They provide framework through which an action can be judged regarding whether it is right or wrong. With the advent of computer and the internet, a large number of ethical issues have arisen; therefore, a separate subsection of the IT ethics has emerged which has controlled the unethical and criminal instances in cyberspace. In the present, the ethical issue of robot-human relationships has been explored with different ethical theories. In the present, the major ethical theories are utilitarianism, deontology, virtue ethics and social contract ethics. These theories provide different frameworks for the analysis of the ethical issues and have conflicting philosophies. However, the major essence of these theories is to make world a better place to live and exist.

The artificial intelligence and the robots have become an integral part of the daily lives of the human beings. Now, the robots are able to perform most of the functions which previously can be performed only by the humans. It has raised the question that whether they would also be able to develop relationships with other human beings, which are either platonic or romantic in nature. Several movies like Her and Ex Machina have been made on the premise of human-robot relationships. A recent study by IEEE stated that by 2050 most of the people will prefer to develop romantic relationships with robot (Rozenfeld, 2016). It is supported by the fact that the robots can be programed to behave in the desired manner and adopt a certain behavior and lifestyle. They will neither complain nor nag their partners. However, the premise of human-robot relationship creates certain ethical dilemma as relationship can only be developed with other human beings. Moreover, although the modern robots are equipped with high intelligence, they do not have the emotional quotient to love someone back. The formation of such relationships will only impact negatively on the society and the human beings.

The utilitarian theory states that an action should be judged according to its consequences on the society and different stakeholders. The utilitarian theory states that the major criteria to judge the morality of an action should be based on its consequences on the society. According to the utilitarian theory, all the actions are morally correct which have a positive impact on the society. It is one of the oldest and the most popular moral theory (Barrow, 2015). It is based on the utility principle which states that the justification of an action should be based on its utility for the society.  The impact of an action on different stakeholders of the society is examined and the overall impact on the society is evaluated. If the action has an overall positive impact on the society than it could be categorized as amorally correct action. In opposite case, the action could be categorized as morally incorrect action (Mill, 2006). 

According to this theory, the premise of human-robot relationship is unethical as it will have negative impact on the society. It will lead to the development of relationships which are not reciprocal in nature as the robots will not be able to reciprocate feelings for the humans. If the married people or people in relationship initiate a relationship with the robots, it can have negative impact on the other partner. Moreover, it can also increase the number of sexual predators as they would be able to realize their whims (Lin, 2016). Generally, although it may assist the people in form long-lasting relationships, it will have a severe negative impact on the society.

 

Similarly, the deontological ethics state that the morality of an action could be judged by its adherence to certain rules. In all the cultures and society, several actions are considered as morally wrong. People should not indulge in such courses of action if they desire to follow ethical conduct. The premise of the human-robot relationship is new; however, no culture promoted excessive attachment or feelings for the materialistic things. Moreover, the human-robot relationship cannot be regarded as a relationship as the robots will never be able to love humans back.

The virtue ethics is another major category of ethics which states that the people form ethic according to their surroundings and upbringing. A child form certain ethical values and principles in the initial years of his development. Later, all his actions are guide by these principles. Along with it, this theory states that a person judges all the actions by these pre-formed notions. It can be critiqued that forming relationships with robots will increase the instances of infidelity among the humans which is prohibited in all the cultures and the society. It will have a negative impact on the partners and reduces the trust in the relationships. It can be critiqued that the promoting these relationships will adversely impact on the culture and the society (Timmons, 2012).

The social contract theory also discourages the human-robot relationships. The fundamental of this theory is that the people form contracts with their relations and society. Their behavior is dependent upon the contracts formed with different members of the society (Hinman, 2012). It is a very old theory which states that an individual’s moral obligations are dependent upon the contract or agreement formed with different parts of the society. It elaborates how the law and state influences the individual. This theory stated that the desire for safety or security can be fulfilled by collective agreement with the society (Sher, 2012). However, the social contract theory is formed when all the members of the society are humans. If robots become a part of the society, it will change the dynamics of the social contract theory. Moreover, forming relationships with the robots will not provide the same sense of security and safety to the humans. The human relationships cannot be substituted as the humans have souls. Although the scientists can increase the intelligence level of the robots, they cannot provide them with the soul which is essential on forming relationships. Moreover, the use of robots for romantic relationships will result in fake relationships as the robots will not have feelings towards them (Robertson, 2014). The human interaction is an important part of an individual’s life; however, encouraging such relationships will decrease it and adversely impact on the quality of human life. 

It could be critiqued that the action of human-robot relation may raise a number of ethical issues in the near future.  Although the premise of human robot relationship looks promising as it provides opportunity to the humans to develop relationships with personality which are programmable and changeable. However, it raises several ethical questions as the relationships thus formed will not be ethical. The prospect of human-robot relationships increases the chances of criminal activities. The essay has discussed how the action is morally incorrect when examined through different types of ethical theories.

 

References

Rozenfeld, M. (2016). In the Future, Humans Will Form Romantic Relationships With Robots. The IEEE Source. Retrieved 11 May 2017 from https://theinstitute.ieee.org/ieee-roundup/members/achievements/in-the-future-humans-will-form-romantic-relationships-with-robots

Lin, P. (2016). Relationships with Robots: Good or Bad for Humans? Forbes. Retrieved 11 May 2017 from https://www.forbes.com/sites/patricklin/2016/02/01/relationships-with-robots-good-or-bad-for-humans/#30e281a37adc

Welsh, S. (2015). What Exactly Are The Ethics of Robot Love? Science Alert. Retrieved 11 May 2017 from https://www.sciencealert.com/deus-sex-machina-the-ethics-of-robot-love

Robertson, E. (2014). What are the ethics of human-robot relationships? The Guardian. Retrieved 11 May 2017 from https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/jan/27/what-are-the-ethics-of-human-robot-relationships

Mill, J.S. (2006). Utilitarianism. ReadHowYouWant.com.

Barrow, R. (2015). Utilitarianism: A Contemporary Statement. Routledge.

Timmons, M. (2012). Moral Theory: An Introduction. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.

Sher, G. (2012).Ethics: Essential Readings in Moral Theory. Routledge.

Hinman, L.M. (2012). Ethics: A Pluralistic Approach to Moral Theory. Cengage Learning.

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