Tuesday, January 19, 2021

New IET online course on Robot Ethics goes live

Big day today. My online course on Robot Ethics has been launched on the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) Academy web pages. The aim of the course is to give a comprehensive introduction to robot ethics and responsible robotics, and machine ethics. As well as ethical principles the course introduces powerful practical tools including Ethically Aligned Design (also called values driven design), emerging new ethical standards including BS8611 and the powerful method Ethical Risk Assessment,  IEEE 7001 on Transparency, and equally essential Ethical Governance, while showing how ethics, standards and regulation are linked. The course took the best part of 18 months to write, not least because of the strict formatting and style required for IET online courses. For academics, writing courses normally means just creating slides, but - to my surprise - IET online courses are narrated by professional voice actors, so I had to write the narration for each slide. Plus, alot of tests to help students to self-test their understanding.

The course is organized as 10 one hour units, each with several modules, and tests at the end of each module and at the end of the unit. Here is the outline syllabus.

Unit 1: What is Robot Ethics?

This unit defines what we mean by an intelligent robot, robot ethics and ethical robots.

Module 1: Defines what we mean by a robot and robot autonomy, while explaining the difference between first wave (i.e. industrial) robots and second wave (i.e. social) robots
Module 2: Defines intelligence and clarifies the distinction between robotics and Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Module 3: Robot/AI ethics: ethics for humans and responsible robotics
Module 4: Machine ethics: ethics for robots

Unit 2: Inspired by Asimov – The EPSRC Principles of Robotics

This unit focuses on the influential EPSRC Principles of Robots.

Module 1: Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics, their limitations, and their contribution to robot ethics
Module 2: Why robot ethics are so important today
Module 3: The EPSRC Principles of Robotics
Module 4: Responsible Robotics

Unit 3: An Overview of Ethical Frameworks for AI

This unit looks at some of the more recent ethical frameworks proposed for robotics and AI.

Module 1: A Proliferation of Principles. A helicopter view of all of the ethical frameworks for robotics and artificial intelligence published since Asimov’s laws of robotics. Including what an ethical framework is and what it does and does not offer.
Module 2: The Future of Life Institute Asilomar principles for beneficial AI
Module 3: The UNI Global Union Top 10 Principles for Ethical AI
Module 4: The European Commission’s High Level Expert Group on AI Ethics Guidelines for Trustworthy AI
Module 5: The OECD Principles of AI
Module 6: Summary: comparing ethical frameworks and their limitations 

Unit 4: Ethical Standards in Robotics

This unit explores emerging ethical standards.

Module 1: Standards, an introduction
Module 2: An Ethical Standard - British Standard BS8611:2016 A Guide to the Ethical Design of Robots and Robotic Systems
Module 3: Ethical Risk Assessment based on BS8611, including a Case Study
Module 4: Standards in Practice

Unit 5: Ethically Aligned Design in Robotics and AI

This unit introduces the IEEE global ethics initiative and ethically aligned design.

Module 1: The IEEE Global Ethics Initiative
Module 2: The IEEE General Principles
Module 3: Ethically Aligned Design
Module 4: The P70XX Human Standards

Unit 6: Transparency and Explainability in Robotics and AI

This Unit explores transparency, and the related topic of accident investigation.

Module 1: Introduction to Transparency and Explainability
Module 2: The IEEE P7001 Standard on Transparency in Autonomous Systems
Module 3: Robot Accident Investigation, an introduction

Unit 7: Ethical Governance for Robotics

This unit focuses on ethical governance for robotics.

Module 1: How do we trust our technology?
Module 2: A Roboethics Roadmap, linking ethics, standards and regulation
Module 3: Robotics Law and Regulation, with examples from Drones, Autonomous Vehicles and Assisted Living robots
Module 4: A framework for ethical governance

Unit 8: Machine Ethics 1 – An Asimovian Ethical Robot

In this unit, we will explore machine ethics, and ask the question: is it possible to build a moral machine?

Module 1: A thought experiment: is it possible to build a moral machine?
Module 2: The Consequence Engine
Module 3: Experimental trials of an Asimovian ethical robot

Unit 9: Machine Ethics 2 – Approaches, Risks and Governance

Module 1: Categories of ethical agency
Module 2: Approaches to building ethical robots
Module 3: The risks of ethical robots
Module 4: The governance of ethical machines

Unit 10: Final Assessment


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