Where does the word robot come from -It’s probably a question that many have asked.
“Robots & Ethics” could be also other question.
Robots, those kind of machines with human appearance – androids – that are so like humans demand to define and redefine our relationships to them.
So, Ethics in practice takes into account the relationship between humankind and robots.
Should humankind respect the human principles of dignity, mutuality and freedom regarding the robots?
Should human rights principles be extended to the robots?
Should we see robots as conscious entities ?
How far can we go in embodying ethics in a robot?
The one who asked these questions at the beginning of the 20th century is the Czech writer Karel Čapek.
The name “robots” appeared for the first time during a conversation between Čapek brothers (Karel Čapek and Joseph, cubist painter).
Karel was ready to write a play, RUR, published in 1920 and he needed the name for his characters – a kind of machines with human appearance.
Joseph, painting at a canvas, suggested him the name ROBOTS- a derivation from Czechish noun ROBOTA ( forced labor).
So, the name ROBOTS appear in English language!
Also with RUR (“Rossum’s Universal Robots”) Karel Čapek expressed first ethical concerns: misusing technology will conduct to humankind dehumanization while the robots will exceed humanity in the moral and intellectual dimensions.
The ideal of humanity for freedom become for robots the fight against slavery.
Also, as many other ethicists of today , Karel Čapek drew attention to the extension of human rights to robots.
Karel Čapek tackled the relationship between humankind and robots which demands ethic principles- otherwise, for the author, robots’ revolt becomes a threat to the very existence of the world.
Nevertheless, those who will save the world for destruction are – in Čapek ‘s vision- the robots which will be a new species: moral agents with mental states, feelings, emotions and responsibility.