According to Daniel H. Wilson, “the concept of the robot encapsulates both aspects of technology. On one hand it’s cool, it’s fun, it’s healthy, it’s sexy, it’s stylish. On the other hand it’s terrifying, it’s alienating, it’s addictive, and it’s scary”. Although robots are being increasingly developed and used in different facets of human lives, there are dangers associated with them. Robots are utilized for automated productions in the manufacturing sector, performing surgeries in hospitals, defusing bombs in battlefields, and doing chores in households, among others. However, during those applications, they can become detrimental to humans. Hence, robots are risky entities that can threaten human lives and should not be encouraged, and though they can assist elderly people, that role raises moral implications.
Robots can cause injuries and deaths to humans through direct approach or indirect manipulations as well as jeopardize their privacy. In recent times, when robots replaced humans for accomplishing specific activities, it resulted in fatalities thus demonstrating their unsafe characteristic. Robots are being used as drivers in driverless cars of Uber, Tesla, and others, as surgeons for performing assisted surgeries, and as surveillance tools to control criminal activities. During those scenarios, they have caused casualties and privacy concerns. For instance, a 49-year-old woman was killed by an Uber autonomous car in Tempe, Arizona despite running at medium speed of 40km/hour (Tucker, 2018). Furthermore, robot-assisted surgeries are proven to have caused deaths of around 140 people between 2008 and 2013. “Causes of death included parts falling into patients’ bodies, machines turning off/on at the wrong time and loss of video feeds” (Tucker, 2018, para.3). Additionally, robots that were introduced by law enforcement authorities in New York City, especially at the Lefrak City Apartments in Queens, are feared to cause an infringement of privacy. Although they are inducted “to observe people walking on the sidewalks, record license plate numbers, and see which cellphone serial numbers are within a designated patrolling area,” residents and social activists have raised concerns that they can intrude into private spaces of people and could be misused by questionable individuals. “In the wrong hands, people could like… reboot it or something,” (“Robotic security forces,” 2018). Hence, robots can harm people and compromise their privacy.
Robots cannot be risky all the time since it can help elderly people in household chores, but that reflects poorly about their children’s responsibilities. In countries, especially Japan, robots are being designed to carry out elder care activities, such as house cleaning, health monitoring, and lifting, among others. Although the aforementioned activities by robots improve living conditions of elders, they are primarily passive in nature and make sons and daughters of those old parents negligent. It is the responsibility of children to take care of their parents during their last years.
Therefore, it is immoral on their part to transfer that responsibility to robots. “People seem comforted by the belief that if we alienate or fail each other, robots will be there, programmed to provide simulations of love” (Turkle, 2013, p.358). Hence, though robots can be helpful, their increased role in elder care is due to the carelessness of the present younger generation.
It is evident that robots can cause deaths during their applications and compromise users’ privacy. They can be helpful to elderly people, but that lead to ethical dilemmas. Using robots in driverless cars and for assisted surgeries have resulted in the demise of several individuals. Furthermore, employing robots for surveillance by law enforcement is being criticized. Though robots are being developed with safety mechanisms, they can terrify and kill people and alienate elderly people without giving them love and care.
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