Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology hypothesize that robots with an understanding of ethical issues would be able to observe interactions between patients and caregivers, and intervene when they notice that something is not the way it should be. In order to test if a robot mediator could help in such cases, the researchers developed an intervening ethical governor (IEG). The IEG is a set of algorithms that encodes specific ethical rules and determines what to do in different situations. The system uses factors such as voice volume and face tracking to evaluate whether a "human's dignity becomes threatened due to other's inappropriate behavior" in a patient-caregiver interaction. If that is the case, the IEG specifies how and when the robot should intervene. The researchers applied the IEG to a Nao humanoid robot and conducted simulated, scripted interactions between two volunteers to see how the robot would react.
From "Robots Could Act as Ethical Mediators Between Patients and Caregivers"
IEEE Spectrum (07/27/17) Evan Ackerman
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