The Ethics of Robotics

The three laws of Robotics first appeared together in Isaac Asimov’s story ‘Runaround’ after being mentioned in some form or the other in previous works by Asimov. These three laws commonly known as the three laws of robotics are the earliest forms of depiction for the needs of ethics in Robotics. In simplistic language Isaac Asimov is able to explain what rules a robot must confine itself to in order to maintain societal sanctity. However, even though they are outdated they still represent some of our innate fears which are beginning to resurface in present day 21st Century. Our society is on the advent of a new revolution; a revolution led by advances in Computer Science, Artificial Intelligence & Nanotechnology. Some of our advances have been so phenomenal that we surpassed what was predicted by the Moore’s law. With these advancements comes the fear that our future may be at the mercy of these androids. Humans today are scared that we, ourselves, might create something which we cannot control. We may end up creating something which can not only learn much faster than anyone of us can, but also evolve faster than what the theory of evolution has allowed us to. The greatest fear is not only that we might lose our jobs to these intelligent beings, but that these beings might end up replacing us at the top of the cycle. The public hysteria has been heightened more so by a number of cultural works which depict annihilation of the human race by robots. Right from Frankenstein to I, Robot mass media has also depicted such issues. This paper is an effort to understand the need for ethics in Robotics or simply termed as Roboethics. This is achieved by the study of artificial beings and the thought being put behind them. By the end of the paper, however, it is concluded that there isn’t a need for ethical robots but more so ever a need for ethical roboticists.


CodingBat – Online code practice

CodingBat is a free site of live coding problems to build coding skill in Java, and now in Python (example problem), created by Nick Parlante who is computer science lecturer at Stanford. The coding problems give immediate feedback, so it’s an opportunity to practice and solidify understanding of the concepts. The problems could be used as homework, or for self-study practice, or in a lab, or as live lecture examples. The problems, all listed off the CodingBat home, have low overhead: short problem statements (like an exam) and immediate feedback in the browser. The idea for CodingBat came from my experience teaching CS at Stanford combined with seeing how student’s used unit-tests in more advanced courses, and crystalized when I saw an Owen Astrachan demo of a unit-testing thing he uses with his Duke students

Google’s Online Python Class

“Welcome to Google’s Python Class — this is a free class for people with a little bit of programming experience who want to learn Python. The class includes written materials, lecture videos, and lots of code exercises to practice Python coding. These materials are used within Google to introduce Python to people who have just a little programming experience. The first exercises work on basic Python concepts like strings and lists, building up to the later exercises which are full programs dealing with text files, processes, and http connections. The class is geared for people who have a little bit of programming experience in some language, enough to know what a “variable” or “if statement” is. Beyond that, you do not need to be an expert programmer to use this material.”

Has some nice exercises and videos too!