Robots are going to play a big part in people’s lives. The image of robots, as presented in classic science-fiction films, may be a massive fantasy dramatization but the integration of task-performing robots into people’s lives won’t be a pure fantasy for much longer. Researchers and developers realize robots can be utilized as mechanical helpers capable of making life easier. Robots may be programmed to perform certain tasks, but developers and designers cannot guarantee robots can perform their duties perfectly and without error.
Researchers want to install “ethical black boxes” in robots. This way, the robots can report facts associated with their decision making when an accident occurs. Doing so comes with more than a mere explanation about what went wrong. The information can assist with reprogramming a robot to prevent mistakes from happening again. Error reports could be uploaded to the manufacturer. The information might be used to improve future models of robots.
Robots cannot think for themselves nor can they make moral decisions. Robots are machines. They can only do what they are programmed to do. Their abilities are limited to their physical capabilities and programming-based artificial intelligence.
This does not mean, however, steps must be done to reduce the potential failures robots may cause. Again, robots cannot act in a perfect way. The main trait they may share with humans is imperfection. Reducing imperfections in robots also could reduce their potential to cause harm due to malfunctions and other issues.
Instilling actual moral ethics may be impossible. Improving performance likely is not.