Stephen Petersen. The Ethics of Robot Servitude.

This article provides an application of both Kantian and Aristotelean ethical analyses to the question of whether it is appropriate for humans to create robots that serve us. Questions arise both from the manner in which Petersen anthropomorphizes the concept of programmed robots, and also from the way in which he applies ethical frameworks to the question he proposes to answer.

1. Petersen defines Engineered Robot Servitude on page 3.  Critique the definition itself.  Describe at least two potential problems you can find with the definition wording and propose an alternative wording that you believe more accurately captures the concept of ERS as you would interpret it.

2. Petersen also states on page 3 that post-identity modification is inherently wrong, not only in humans but in robots also.  I could construct a counter-argument that robots, as programmable computers, have the very identity designed for continual modification.  Writing, compiling and executing new computer code is how we do modification to robots and computers all the time, and this does not strike me in itself as unctonroversially wrong.  If you agree with me, then how does the concept of identity relate to a programmable robot as opposed to a human?  If you disagree with me, then motivate your agreement with Petersen (or your subtle middle ground).

3. Petersen presents a Kantian and Aristotelian set of arguments for why ERS may be different from EHS, or for why EHS and ERS may in fact be permissible. Choose one of our ethical frameworks and apply it yourself to Petersen’s ERS-specific question (ignore EHS) and, in this application, be sure to consider consequences and/or character for society as a whole (e.g. humanity, gaia, civilization).

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