LADYBIRD, the animal-friendly vacuum cleaning robot, was conceived in 2014 by Oliver Bendel and introduced at Stanford University (AAAI Spring Symposia) in 2017 and then implemented as a prototype at the School of Business FHNW. In the context of the project, a menu was proposed with which the user can set the morale of the vacuum cleaner robot. As the name implies, it spares ladybirds. It should also let spiders live. But if you want to have certain insects sucked in, you could define this via a menu. It is important that LADYBIRD remains animal-friendly overall. The idea was to develop a proxy morality in detail via the menu. The vacuum cleaner robot as a proxy machine does what the owner would do. In 2018 the moral menu (MOME) for LADYBIRD was born as a design study. It can be combined with other approaches and technologies. In this way, the user could learn how others have decided and how the personal morality that he has transferred to the machine is assessed. He could also be warned and enlightened if he wants to suck in not only vermin but also spiders.
Fig.: Moral menu for LADYBIRD
The book chapter “Co-robots from an Ethical Perspective” by Oliver Bendel was published in March 2018. It is included in the book “Business Information Systems and Technology 4.0″ (Springer). The abstract: “Cooperation and collaboration robots work hand in hand with their human colleagues. This contribution focuses on the use of these robots in production. The co-robots (to use this umbrella term) are defined and classified, and application areas, examples of applications and product examples are mentioned. Against this background, a discussion on moral issues follows, both from the perspective of information and technology ethics and business ethics. Central concepts of these fields of applied ethics are referred to and transferred to the areas of application. In moral terms, the use of cooperation and collaboration robots involves both opportunities and risks. Co-robots can support workers and save them from strains and injuries, but can also displace them in certain activities or make them dependent. Machine ethics is included at the margin; it addresses whether and how to improve the decisions and actions of (partially) autonomous systems with respect to morality. Cooperation and collaboration robots are a new and interesting subject for it.” The book can be ordered here.
Fig.: The cover of the book (photo: Springer)