The Ethical Frontiers of Robots

TheEthical Frontiers of Robots

TheEthical Frontiers of Robots

Thearticle is about robotics and the ethical dilemmas that they present.Whereas the author commends the use of robotics like industrialrobots such as those used to clean windows, dispose explosives,washing and cleaning dirty places like in sewages, he is concernedabout the ethics in the use of robots for taking care of children andthe elderly and their use in autonomous weapons by the military. Theuse of robots to take care of children substitute human contact andlack of it in children may have serious psychological impact inchildren. On the other hand robots designed to care for the elderlysuch as those that remind an elderly about medication time, can allowthem to live independently but they become eluded about the realnature of their interaction to these robots. Semi autonomous roboticsby the military may not be able to distinguish between combatants andinnocent civilians, since computer programs do not have that abilityespecially in close contact. As a result their use can cause thedeath of innocents as is the case in the use of MQ1 predator and MQ9Reaper by coalition forces in Afghanistan.

Theauthor has done a great job in persuading his audience regarding theuse of robots. He makes his claim that the use of service robotspresents potential risk and ethical issues (Sharkey, 2008). Thisclaim makes the reader to think deeply about the author’s argument.In the process, the reader gets interested in understanding how theseservice robots can pose risks and ethical problems. The making of aclaim is the article also acts as the thesis statement which issimple and clear.

Secondly,the author uses studies in his essay as a way of persuading hisreaders. In the current article, the author quotes research done onchild-minding robots using Sony Quiro in the United States and PaPeRoin Japan which revealed a close bonding and attachment by childrenwho usually prefer a robot to a teddy bear (Sharkey, 2008). Hecontinues to explain that, short term relations with a robot can beentertaining just like with media e.g. television but child mindingrobots can deny children human contact for days which has possiblepsychological effects (Sharkey, 2008). Clearly, the author uses thisstrategy in a very comprehensive manner. He provides insight,supports claims with research and explains to the audience which isvery persuasive.

Theauthor’s strategy is systematic and persuasive. The organizationsstrategy used by the author includes a claim-problem-justification.Before talking about the problem, the author is keen to introduce anissue. For example when he talks about the use of autonomous roboticsin military, he begins by briefing the reader on the subject. This isthen followed by the problem where the author argues why thereexists a problem. He gives examples for example on how the use of MQ1Predator and MQ9 Reaper in Afghanistan caused the death of theinnocent (Sharkey, 2008). Further the author is able to bring a clearpicture to the audience of why the problem exists-which isjustification. He continues to affirm his statement by the use ofanalytical skills in his persuasion.

Theauthor makes various assumptions in the article. The first assumptionis that service robots are used to substitute human contact as in thecase of child-minding robots or robots providing services to theelderly. This is an assumption because, the use of service robots canact as a supplement for parents who are busy during the day and whenback home they can take over and care for their children. Similarly,the elderly may have a care giver but at times can use the servicesof a robot if necessary, but it doesn’t have to be a routinerelationship. This assumption is the foundation of the argument andis very persuasive. The reader can’t help but sympathize withchildren or the elderly using the services of a robot, thanks to thisassumption.

Secondly,the author assumes that future developments in the use of robots willpresent different ethical problems besides the present ones presentedby robots for war and robots for care. This is an assumption that ismeant to persuade people to believe that the future of robotspresents different ethical limitations and should thus bediscouraged. The truth is, no one knows the extent at which futuredevelopments of robots will impact human life. It might make lifemuch better than now hence the writer just uses this assumption as apersuasion technique.

Conclusively,the author of the current article is keen in persuading his readers.He uses research and claims as part of his persuasion strategy. Healso organizes the paper in a manner that brings the reader to theissue in a persuasive way. Finally, the assumptions that the articleis founded upon are strong and lead the reader to agree to theauthor’s argument.


Sharkey,N. (2008 Dec., 19). The ethical Frontiers of Robotics. Science322(5909).Retrieved (Accessed December 12, 2014).