Can Robots Have Dignity?

In: Artificial Intelligence
Author: Carmen Krämer

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The progress towards a society in which robots are our daily attendants seems to be inevitable. Sharing our workplaces, our homes and public squares with robots calls for an exploration of how we want and need to organize our cohabitation with these increasingly autonomous machines. Not only the question of how robots should treat humans or the surrounding world, but also the questions of how humans should treat robots, and how robots should treat each other, may and should be asked. Considering the Kantian idea that possessing dignity is based on autonomy and the fact that robots are becoming increasingly autonomous and rational, one of these questions might be whether robots can have dignity. Two issues must therefore be addressed before answering the question: 1. What are robots and why should we think about “robot dignity” at all? and 2. What is dignity? The answer to the first question is necessary to understand the object of investigation and will be considered briefly. The second more complex question requires a short glimpse on the existing theories and the history of the term before a proposal will be given on how to understand dignity. Finally, it will be explained why robots cannot be rightly seen as possessors of dignity.

Artificial Intelligence

Reflections in Philosophy, Theology, and the Social Sciences