Ethics of social robotics: Individual and societal concerns and opportunities

Journal Article (2024)


Annual Review of Control, Robotics, and Autonomous Systems





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Focus on the ethics of a given technology tends to lag far behind its development. This lag has been particularly acute in the case of artificial intelligence, whose accelerated deployment in a wide range of domains has triggered unprecedented attention on the risks and consequences for society at large, leading to a myriad of ethics regulations, which are difficult to coordinate and integrate due to their late appearance. The very nature of social robots forces their deployment to occur at a much slower pace, providing an opportunity for a profound reflection on ethics, which is already happening in multidisciplinary teams. This article provides a personal view of the ethics landscape, centered on the particularities of social robotics, with the main issues being ordered along two axes (individual and societal) and grouped into eight categories (human dignity, human autonomy, robot transparency, emotional bonding, privacy and safety, justice, freedom, and responsibility). This structure stems from the experience of developing and teaching a university course on ethics in social robotics, whose pedagogical materials are freely available.


artificial intelligence, intelligent robots, service robots, social aspects of automation.

Author keywords

robot ethics, social robotics, human-robot interaction, AI ethics, philosophy of technology, social responsibility

Scientific reference

C. Torras. Ethics of social robotics: Individual and societal concerns and opportunities. Annual Review of Control, Robotics, and Autonomous Systems, 7(1), 2024, to appear.