Schlagworte: Machine Ethics

Robophilosophy Conference in Vienna

“Robophilosophy 2018 – Envisioning Robots In Society: Politics, Power, And Public Space” is the third event in the Robophilosophy Conference Series which focusses on robophilosophy, a new field of interdisciplinary applied research in philosophy, robotics, artificial intelligence and other disciplines. The main organizers are Prof. Dr. Mark Coeckelbergh, Dr. Janina Loh and Michael Funk. Plenary speakers are Joanna Bryson (Department of Computer Science, University of Bath, UK), Hiroshi Ishiguro (Intelligent Robotics Laboratory, Osaka University, Japan), Guy Standing (Basic Income Earth Network and School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, UK), Catelijne Muller (Rapporteur on Artificial Intelligence, European Economic and Social Committee), Robert Trappl (Head of the Austrian Research Institute for Artificial Intelligence, Austria), Simon Penny (Department of Art, University of California, Irvine), Raja Chatila (IEEE Global Initiative for Ethical Considerations in AI and Automated Systems, Institute of Intelligent Systems and Robotics, Pierre and Marie Curie University, Paris, France), Josef Weidenholzer (Member of the European Parliament, domains of automation and digitization) and Oliver Bendel (Institute for Information Systems, FHNW University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland). The conference will take place from 14 to 17 February 2018 in Vienna. More information via

Fig.: Creating artificial beings

Machine Ethics in Florida

Prof. Dr. Oliver Bendel was invited to give a lecture at the ISAIM special session “Formalising Robot Ethics”. “The International Symposium on Artificial Intelligence and Mathematics is a biennial meeting that fosters interactions between mathematics, theoretical computer science, and artificial intelligence.” (Website ISAIM) Oliver Bendel will present selected prototypes of moral and immoral machines and will discuss a project planned for 2018. The GOODBOT is a chatbot that responds morally adequate to problems of the users. It’s based on the Verbot engine. The LIEBOT can lie systematically, using seven different strategies. It was written in Java, whereby AIML was used. LADYBIRD is an animal-friendly robot vacuum cleaner that spares ladybirds and other insects. In this case, an annotated decision tree was translated into Java. The BESTBOT should be even better than the GOODBOT. Technically everything is still open. The ISAIM conference will take place from 3 to 5 January 2018 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Further information is available at

Abb.: Die Hand von Nao

Robotics Conference at the European Parliament

The Digital Europe Working Group Conference Robotics will take place on 8 November 2017 at the European Parliament in Brussels. The keynote address will be given by Mariya Gabriel, European Commissioner for Digital Society and Economy. The speakers of the first panel are Oliver Bendel (Professor of Information Systems, Information Ethics and Machine Ethics at the School of Business FHNW, via video conference), Anna Byhovskaya (policy and communications advisor, Trade Union Advisory Council of the OECD) and Malcolm James (Senior Lecturer in Accounting & Taxation, Cardiff Metropolitan University). The third panel will be moderated by Mady Delvaux (Member of the European Parliament). Speaker is Giovanni Sartor (Professor of Legal Informatics and Legal Theory at the European University Institute). The poster can be downloaded here. Further information is available at

Fig.: A detail of the poster

Electric Smell Machine

Adrian David Cheok is director of the Mixed Reality Lab which “aims to push the boundaries of research into interactive new media technologies through the combination of technology, art, and creativity” (Website Mixed Reality Lab). He is editor of several academic journals and of the book “Love and Sex with Robots” (together with Kate Devlin and David Levy) which was published in 2017. In a current press release, he presents an electric smell machine for internet and virtual smell. “Here we are excited to introduce the world’s first computer controlled digital device developed to stimulate olfactory receptor neurons with the aim of producing smell sensations purely using electrical pulses. Using this device, now we can easily stimulate the various areas of nasal cavity with different kinds of electric pulses. During the initial user experiments, some participants experienced smell sensations including floral, fruity, chemical, and woody. In addition, we have observed a difference in the ability of smelling odorants before and after the electrical stimulation. These results suggest that this technology could be enhanced to artificially create and modify smell sensations. By conducting more experiments with human subjects, we are expecting to uncover the patterns of electrical stimulations, that can effectively generate, modify, and recall smell sensations. This invention can lead to internet and virtual reality digital smell.” (Press Release, 10 August 2017) More via

Fig.: Towards the digital smell

Robots in Public Spaces

There are more and more service robots in “open” spaces, safety and surveillance robots, transport and delivery robots, information and navigation robots and entertainment and toy robots. They are on their way in places that many of us share, and that are public. This poses various challenges. The article “Service Robots in Public Spaces: Ethical and Sociological Considerations” by Prof. Dr. Oliver Bendel (School of Business, University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland FHNW) addresses these challenges – from the moral and social points of view – and proposes solutions, among other things on the ethical, technical and organizational level, as well as offering assistance for roboticists and for legislative and political instances. The article was published in Telepolis (25 June 2017). It is Oliver Bendel’s twelfth contribution since 2008 in Germany’s oldest online magazine (founded in 1996).

Fig.: The K5 robot can be seen in Stanford

Harper’s Magazine, 666 Broadway

Harper’s Magazine, ansässig in New York, 666 Broadway, hat Herman Melvilles “Moby Dick” ebenso besprochen wie die neuesten Entdeckungen von Thomas Edison. Auch den Frauenrechten hat man sich immer wieder gewidmet. Winston Churchill und Theodore Roosevelt schrieben Beiträge für die berühmte Zeitschrift. In einer Selbsteinschätzung auf der Website heißt es: “Harper’s Magazine, the oldest general-interest monthly in America, explores the issues that drive our national conversation, through long-form narrative journalism and essays, and such celebrated features as the iconic Harper’s Index. With its emphasis on fine writing and original thought Harper’s provides readers with a unique perspective on politics, society, the environment, and culture.” (Website Harper’s Magazine) In der neuen Ausgabe, erschienen Mitte Mai 2017, wird unter dem Titel “Machine Yearning” der Maschinenethik Platz eingeräumt. Zitiert werden Fragen von Oliver Bendel, die der Wirtschaftsinformatiker und Ethiker zu Sexrobotern gestellt hat und die im Buch “Love and Sex with Robots” (Springer, 2017) verschriftlicht sind. Der Beitrag kann online über abgerufen werden und ist auch als PDF verfügbar.

Abb.: Blick über Manhattan

The LADYBIRD Project

The LADYBIRD project starts in March 2017. More and more autonomous and semi-autonomous machines make decisions that have moral implications. Machine ethics as a discipline examines the possibilities and limits of moral machines. In this context, Prof. Dr. Oliver Bendel developed various design studies and thus submitted proposals for their appearance and functions. He focused on animal-friendly machines which make morally sound decisions, and chatbots with specific skills. The project is about a service robot, which shall spare beneficial insects – a vacuum cleaner called LADYBIRD. An annotated decision tree modelled for this objective and a set of sensors will be used. Three students work from March to October in the practice project at the School of Business FHNW. Since 2013, the principal Oliver Bendel published several articles on LADYBIRD and other animal-friendly machines, e.g., “Ich bremse auch für Tiere (I also brake for animals)” in the Swiss magazine The robot will be the third prototype in the context of machine ethics at the School of Business FHNW. The first one was the GOODBOT (2013), the second one the LIEBOT (2016). All these machines can be described as simple moral machines.

Fig.: The robot should spare the ladybird

About Sex Robots and Love Dolls

Inverse is an American online magazine, launched by Dave Nemetz, co-founder of Bleacher Report. It is based in San Francisco, California. According to the New York Observer, Inverse “aims to capture the millennial dude market with quirky takes on subjects like tech, games (video and board) and space” (Observer, October 20, 2015). Gabe Bergado asked the ethicist Oliver Bendel about sex robots and love dolls. One issue was: “Why are more companies and people becoming more interested in sex robots?” The reply to it: “Companies want to earn money. But I don’t think that this is a big market. Sex robots will remain a niche product. But, of course, sex toys are popular, und together with virtual and mixed reality, this could be the biggest thing next year. Some people and media are sensation-seeking. That’s why they are interested in sex robots and in men and women who fall in love with machines.” Another question was: “How should governments be reacting to the development of sex robots? Should there be regulations?” The answer is short and clear again: “Sex robots will remain a niche product, and I don’t think there will be many needs for regulation. Adults can do whatever they want to do, provided that they do not affect or disturb others in extreme ways. But I’m against child-like robots in brothels. Perhaps this should be banned.” The ethicist concluded with respect to sex robots: “It is interesting for a philosopher to research them and our relationship with them.” The final version of the interview was published in the article “Sex Robots Can’t Automate Emotional Intimacy” (January 28, 2017) which is available via

Fig.: This could be a love doll

Podiumsdiskussion über täuschende Maschinen

“Should we develop robots that deceive?” Diese Frage diskutierten Ron Arkin (Georgia Tech), Oliver Bendel (Hochschule für Wirtschaft FHNW), Jaap Hage (Universiteit Maastricht) und Mojca Plesnicar (Inštitut za kriminologijo pri Pravni fakulteti v Ljubljani) auf dem Podium der Konferenz “Machine Ethics and Machine Law”. Ron Arkin forschte wiederholt für das Pentagon an Robotern, die Maschinen und Personen täuschen und Personen und Einrichtungen schützen. Er stellte Tiere vor, die andere Tiere täuschen, und skizzierte, wie dieses Verhalten auf Roboter übertragen werden kann. Oliver Bendel, der Vater des LIEBOT, formulierte sechs Thesen. Die fünfte lautete: “We should … develop deceptive and lying machines to be able to fight against deceptive and lying machines.” Und er kam zum Schluss: “After all, deceptive and lying machines are important for the improvement of artificial intelligence.” Nach den Statements von Jaap Haage und Mojca Plesnicar diskutierte man miteinander und mit dem Publikum, angeleitet und vermittelt von Amit Kumar Pandey (SoftBank Robotics). Die Konferenz am 18. und 19. November 2016 in Krakau dürfte nach dem Symposium “Ethical and Moral Considerations in Non-Human Agents” (21. – 23. März in Stanford) die wichtigste internationale Konferenz für Maschinenethik im Jahre 2016 gewesen sein. An den zwei Tagen trugen u.a. Ron Arkin, Oliver Bendel (zusammen mit Kevin Schwegler), Elizabeth Kinne, Lily Frank, Joanna Bryson und Kathleen Richardson vor. Es liegt ein Proceedingsband mit den Extended Abstracts vor.

Abb.: Nach der Podiumsdiskussion

Machine Ethics and Machine Law

Die Konferenz “Machine Ethics and Machine Law” am 18. und 19. November in Krakau dürfte nach dem Symposium “Ethical and Moral Considerations in Non-Human Agents” (21. – 23. März in Stanford) die wichtigste internationale Konferenz für Maschinenethik im Jahre 2016 sein. Die Keynotes am 19. November stammen von Ron Arkin (“Lethal Autonomous Robots and the Plight of the Noncombatant”) und Amit Pandey (“Contemporary Issues on Ethical Intelligence of a Socially Intelligent Consumer Robot”). In der darauffolgenden Podiumsdiskussion geht es um die Frage: “Should we develop robots that deceive?” Es diskutieren Ron Arkin, Oliver Bendel, Jaap Hage und Mojca Plesnicar. In den Sessions am Nachmittag referieren u.a. Oliver Bendel, Lily Frank und Kathleen Richardson. Jaap Hage hält am 19. November seine Keynote zur Frage “Under which circumstances can we hold a machine responsible for its acts?”, Ewa Lukasik ihre Keynote über “Human Autonomy and the Hazards of Principle Agency in an Era of Expanding AI”. Es folgen eine weitere Podiumsdiskussion und Vorträge u.a. von Luís Moniz Pereira und Georgi Stojanov. Das gesamte Programm kann über die Website der Konferenz ( eingesehen werden; dort findet sich auch der Proceedingsband mit den Abstracts.

Abb.: Ist Obelix so freundlich, wie er tut?

Comments on Ethical and Legal Issues

Prior to the hearing in the Parliament of the Federal Republic of Germany on 22 June 2016 from 4 – 6 pm, the contracted experts had sent their written comments on ethical and legal issues with respect to the use of robots and artificial intelligence. The video for the hearing can be accessed via The documents of Oliver Bendel (School of Business FHNW), Eric Hilgendorf (University of Würzburg), Norbert Elkman (Fraunhofer IPK) and Ryan Calo (University of Washington) were published in July on the website of the German Bundestag. Answering the question “Apart from legal questions, for example concerning responsibility and liability, where will ethical questions, in particular, also arise with regard to the use of artificial intelligence or as a result of the aggregation of information and algorithms?” the US scientist explained: “Robots and artificial intelligence raise just as many ethical questions as legal ones. We might ask, for instance, what sorts of activities we can ethically outsource to machines. Does Germany want to be a society that relegates the use of force, the education of children, or eldercare to robots? There are also serious challenges around the use of artificial intelligence to make material decisions about citizens in terms of minimizing bias and providing for transparency and accountability – issues already recognized to an extent by the EU Data Directive.” (Website German Bundestag) All documents (most of them in German) are available via

Abb.: Es entstehen immer mehr hybride Wesen und Vorgänge

NWO Responsible Innovation Programme

Prof. Dr. Oliver Bendel from the School of Business FHNW will act as an external reviewer for The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO, the Dutch Research Council) and will assess the merits of a research proposal submitted under the NWO Responsible Innovation programme. The aim of this multidisciplinary programme is to explore the ethical and societal issues surrounding innovations like autonomous cars, electronic patient files and the smart energy meter. The NWO website declares: „Highly promising innovations can fail because ethical and societal questions are not taken into account in good time. … In the case of responsible innovation possible ethical and societal consequences of the innovation are already involved at an early stage. For this NWO has developed the Responsible Innovation research programme.“ (Website NWO) A new registration round started in June 2016. „The programme is for joint projects of researchers engaged in the humanities, science and the social and behavioural sciences. Together with companies and civil society organisations, they identify at the development stage of innovations the potential ethical and societal issues that may arise. Addressing these issues early on will increase support among stakeholders and also the likelihood of successful innovations.“ (Website NWO) More information via

Fig.: At the Universiteit Leiden

Cyber-Human Systems

In these days, the Hasler Foundation presents the new research program “Cyber-Human Systems”, with a budget of 5 millions Swiss francs. Some information from the website: “Computing plays an ever increasing role in all aspects of our life. As a consequence, society and information technology continuously interact and influence each other in a complex process. In this context, cyber-human system research investigates the increasingly coupled relationship between humans and computing with the broad goal of advancing human capabilities. Novel models, methods, theories and technological innovations in information technology are developed to increase our understanding of this new class of computing systems and to exploit their large economical and societal potential.” (Website Hasler) The text continues: “Research in cyber-human systems addresses specifically all aspects close to the interface between humans and information technology. It is concerned with novel computing platforms such as wearable, textile-integrated and mobile devices or even person-embedded sensors and computers. The research also explores systems that interact with users through multiple modalities such as new interaction techniques, computer displays and even brain-machine interfaces. Algorithmic aspects in cyber-human systems concentrate on local data processing in smart devices at the network edge rather than sending all data to the cloud for processing.” According to a press release, research subjects include interfaces between digital and human world, computing like machine learning at the edge and analysis of economic and societal consequences. More information via

Fig.: A cyborg girl

Considerations in Non-Human Agents

The proceedings of the AAAI conference 2016 have been published in March 2016 (“The 2016 AAAI Spring Symposium Series: Technical Reports”). The symposium “Ethical and Moral Considerations in Non-Human Agents” was dedicated to the discipline of machine ethics. Ron Arkin (Georgia Institute of Technology), Luís Moniz Pereira (Universidade Nova de Lisboa), Peter Asaro (New School for Public Engagement, New York) and Oliver Bendel (School of Business FHNW) spoke about moral and immoral machines. The contribution “Annotated Decision Trees for Simple Moral Machines” (Oliver Bendel) can be found on the pages 195 – 201. In the abstract it is said: “Autonomization often follows after the automization on which it is based. More and more machines have to make decisions with moral implications. Machine ethics, which can be seen as an equivalent of human ethics, analyses the chances and limits of moral machines. So far, decision trees have not been commonly used for modelling moral machines. This article proposes an approach for creating annotated decision trees, and specifies their central components. The focus is on simple moral machines. The chances of such models are illustrated with the example of a self-driving car that is friendly to humans and animals. Finally the advantages and disadvantages are discussed and conclusions are drawn.” The proceedings can be ordered via

Fig.: Oliver Bendel, Cindy Mason, Luís Moniz Pereira and others in Stanford

Tagungsband zur Maschinenethik

Im März 2016 ist der Proceedingsband “The 2016 AAAI Spring Symposium Series: Technical Reports” erschienen, in der AAAI Press (Palo Alto 2016). Die KI-Konferenz fand an der Stanford University statt. Zur Maschinenethik (Symposium “Ethical and Moral Considerations in Non-Human Agents”) referierten u.a. Ron Arkin (Georgia Institute of Technology), Luís Moniz Pereira (Universidade Nova de Lisboa), Peter Asaro (New School for Public Engagement, New York) und Oliver Bendel (Hochschule für Wirtschaft FHNW). Auf den Seiten 195 bis 201 findet sich der Beitrag “Annotated Decision Trees for Simple Moral Machines” von Oliver Bendel. Im Abstract heißt es: “Autonomization often follows after the automization on which it is based. More and more machines have to make decisions with moral implications. Machine ethics, which can be seen as an equivalent of human ethics, analyses the chances and limits of moral machines. So far, decision trees have not been commonly used for modelling moral machines. This article proposes an approach for creating annotated decision trees, and specifies their central components. The focus is on simple moral machines. The chances of such models are illustrated with the example of a self-driving car that is friendly to humans and animals. Finally the advantages and disadvantages are discussed and conclusions are drawn.” Der Tagungsband kann über bestellt werden.

Abb.: Auf dem Stanford-Campus

Assistenzsysteme helfen Tieren

Am 9. Oktober 2014 ist der Artikel “Advanced Driver Assistance Systems and Animals” von Oliver Bendel in der Zeitschrift Künstliche Intelligenz erschienen. Im Abstract heißt es: “Advanced driver assistance systems are widely used. Some support and inform the driver. Others relieve him or her of certain tasks – and transform the human-guided system into a semi-autonomous one. For some years also fully autonomous systems have been on the roads, so-called self-driving cars, as prototypes of companies and within research projects. From the perspective of ethics – both of the special fields of ethics like animal ethics, information ethics and technology ethics and of machine ethics which can be understood as a counterpart to human ethics – advanced driver assistance systems raise various questions. The aim of this paper is to derive suggestions from animal ethics and other disciplines for the improvement and development of the systems. The basis are literature analysis and own classifications and considerations. The result is that there are many possibilities to expand existing systems and to develop new functions in the context with the aim to reduce the number of animal victims.” Der Artikel kann über bezogen werden.

Abb.: Die Katze unter dem Auto

Proceedings der PACITA-Konferenz

Zur ersten europäischen Tagung zur Technologiefolgenabschätzung sind im Juli 2014 die Proceedings erschienen. Sie können über die PACITA-Website kostenlos als PDF heruntergeladen werden und haben ca. 440 Seiten. Die von der EU getragene Konferenz fand im März 2013 in Prag statt. Im Buch ist, was ethische Fragen angeht, insbesondere “Part V – Facing New and Emerging Technologies” relevant. Von Marie-des-Neiges Ruffo (Université Paris-Sorbonne) stammt der Beitrag “Why Autonomous Unmanned Aerial Vehicles Will Lose the War”, von Oliver Bendel (Hochschule für Wirtschaft FHNW) “Towards Machine Ethics” (Kapitel “Emerging Technologies and Ethics”). Im Kapitel “Privacy Aspects” finden sich u.a. die Beiträge “Locating, Tracking and Tracing” von Lorenz M. Hilty (Universität Zürich und EMPA) et al. und “Privacy Aspects of Social Networks – An Overview” von Stefan Strauß und Michael Nentwich (beide vom Institut für Technikfolgen-Abschätzung der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften). Der Band kann auch in gedruckter Form erworben werden. Weitere Informationen über die PACITA-Website.

Abb.: Sänger in Prag

Call zur Ethik des Internets der Dinge

Die International Review of Information Ethics (IRIE) hat einen Call for Papers zum Thema “Ethics for the Internet of Things” veröffentlicht. Deadline für die Einreichung der Abstracts ist der 31. August 2014. Auf der Website der Zeitschrift heißt es: “The 22nd issue of IRIE will tackle the ethical challenge of the Internet of Things and therefore furnish a contribution to the establishment of an ethics for it. This ethics is anchored in the field of information ethics, yet it radicalizes to a certain degree the fundamental issues in this field, insofar as the entire mesosphere appears as a sphere shaped by information and its technologies. And hence, the boundaries then disappear between electronic technology and what underpins it.” Mögliche Themen seien “Privacy in the IoT”, “Access to beneficial use of IoT and social justice”, “Establishment of trust in the IoT” und “Status of agents and agency in the IoT”. Gastherausgeber sind Hektor Haarkötter und Felix Weil. Weitere Informationen über

“Information ethics can give a new impetus”

In den VμE-Nachrichten, herausgegeben vom Fraunhofer-Verbund Mikroelektronik, erschien im Sommer 2013 ein Interview zu Informations- und Maschinenethik. Oliver Bendel erklärte, was man sich unter diesen Disziplinen vorstellen kann, ging auf die Einflussmöglichkeiten von Forschern ein und wünschte sich die Stärkung der philosophischen Ethik gegenüber der theologischen bzw. theonomen. Inzwischen ist die englische Version der Zeitschrift erschienen, mitsamt dem Interview auf den Seiten 8 und 9. Es wird mit folgenden Worten eingeleitet: “Technological progress opens up new opportunities for action that make our lives safer and more comfortable – as long as we take advantage of it responsibly. VμE spoke to the commercial computer scientist and author Prof. Oliver Bendel about the ethical dimension of research, and current issues.” Die vollständige englischsprachige Zeitschrift ist als PDF verfügbar.

Roboterethik im Gabler Wirtschaftslexikon

Im Gabler Wirtschaftslexikon wird seit 3. Juli 2013 die Roboterethik definiert. Diese kann man sowohl der Maschinen- als auch der Menschenethik zuordnen. In der Roboterethik werde danach gefragt, ob ein Roboter ein Subjekt der Moral sein und wie man diese implementieren kann. Auch der Roboter als Objekt der Moral sowie sein Einfluss auf Menschen sei von Belang. Oliver Bendel erklärt in seinem Beitrag den Begriff der Roboterethik, nimmt die Perspektive der Robotik ein, erwähnt die Robotergesetze von Asimov und gibt eine Einschätzung der Disziplin und einen Ausblick auf ihre weitere Entwicklung. Der Beitrag ist direkt über abrufbar. Er wurde dem Sachgebiet “Grundlagen der Wirtschaftsinformatik” zugewiesen. Für das Gabler Wirtschaftslexikon schreiben nach eigenen Angaben über “150 Experten aus Wissenschaft und Praxis”. Mehr als “25.000 Stichwörter stehen kostenlos” bereit.