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YOUrban is a research project into social media, design and the city. It investigates tools and means to creating engagement and a sense of ownership and responsibility towards our physical, social and cultural world. More »

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The ethics of robots

Professor La Tour throught he would take a walk. He’d checked his weather app and at last the temperature had changed to red. No longer was it the the icy blue double-digit that had kept him indoors – and immune from the malls of Christmans shopping.

‘It’s time for some fresher air,’ he said out loud, propelling himself from his armchair and onto his feet. He checked the weather app once again. He felt the numbness of one leg, fast asleep after an hour spent deep in his yuletide reward of a new book for a year’s hard thinking.

robot ethics2

Prof La Tour sighed and looked down at the book’s dust jacket on the floor beside him. Robot Ethics. It’d been an interesting read from The MIT Press once again, a set of arguments he’d not fully rehearsed in his own mind let alone committed to his website. The human-robot emotional relationship. He’d done the symmetries of ANT, now he’d read discussions on bio-computational hybrids. Ever one to follow the actors, Prof La Tour recalled his own early work in tracing the actions of an enzyme. What if this was a matter of articulation now, of a sentient discussion. Not just the grafting of a symbolic listening ear onto his forearm by the performance artist Stelarc, but an actual dynamic discourse!

‘Yes,’ he declared, surprising himself with the volume of his own voice,  it was time to look skywards and see if he could spot one of the new urban drones. Get myself onto the street and stare skywards before the day clouds over with the pressure of snow.

Adrona felt she was on near permanent emotional pause. She was set to hover mode over a small sector of the old city, just north of the new waterfront complex, still a grubby building site. Watch for intruders, scan the zone, purr away as if she was actually content, rotors in perpetual spin, her sensors activated. She used her abductive algorithm capacity to piece tow and two together. This doesn’t feel right, this surveilling ….

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