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Themes

Main robot ethics themes

Click on the themes to see the relevant blog postings summarised.

Robot ethics – How should we develop robots and artificial intelligence systems so that they do not become a threat to humanity? What do we learn about people from a study of ethics and the way moral principles are applied? This has implications for the design of robots, AI, society and the future generally.

The human operating system – What are the fundamental principles that govern how people ‘tick’? Can we work towards a computational model that helps our understanding? This has implications for the design of better systems, for the development of artificial intelligence and for improving our relationships.

Theory of knowledge and theory of mind – How do we come to understand the world and develop our beliefs about it? How certain can those beliefs be? This analysis provides a foundation for informing work on the human operating system and how we can effect change.

A principle underlying the development of robot ethics is that:


In order to design artificial Autonomous Intelligent Systems (A/ISs), such as robots, we need to understand how people operate. This is partly because it informs our designs, but mainly because if we want to develop ethical A/ISs they will need to understand us. Unless they are equipped with the capacity to learn, understand and model human values, goals, needs, intentions, limitations and vulnerabilities it will not be possible for them to behave ethically.


Descriptions of the ‘Human Operating System’ (HOS), the Theory of Knowledge (ToK) and Theory of Mind (ToM), work towards this. Links to other background on the nature of human wellbeing and it’s relationship to empowerment and control can be found below.

Wellbeing and control – What is the nature of wellbeing for the individual and society and how does it relate to the degree of control we have over the various aspects of our lives? This has implications for social policy and how we, as individuals, live our lives.

Social policy, politics and inequality – What’s wrong with the way in which society works? How can our new knowledge from social science inform the changes needed to enhance overall wellbeing?