Designing robots with care: creating an ethical framework for the future design and implementation of care robots

Amy Louise van Wynsberghe

Research output: ThesisPhD Thesis - Research UT, graduation UT

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This book begins by highlighting the range of positive and negative aspects associated with the initiative to design and use care robots. The positive aspects vary from; the reality that care is required 24/7 and a human caregiver cannot possibly meet such a standard, the reality that patients are abused when in the care of others, the reality that current practices fail to meet the ideal standard of care and the foreseen lack of healthcare personnel and resources to meet ever increasing care needs of societies. When the actuality of a care robotis discussed, however, many relevant ethical concerns are introduced. What will the impact of the robot be on the provision of good care, on the manifestation of care values; will it change the standards of care and ultimately lower them? Will care robots displace and/or de-skill care workers? What will the existential impact be on the care-giver and the care-receiver; is the use of robots a devaluing of either or both? Given the strength of both arguments, however, it is not possible to conclude only on either side of the debate. It is true that when we describe care practices and think of a robot being integrated, it looks better to have a human present. This does not, however, mean the human will provide care according to the ideal.Many scholars to date have discussed the positive and negative ethical issues associated with the use of care robots and some have even suggested the need for a framework to evaluate robots in general [Asaro, 2006] and care robots in particular [Sharkey and Sharkey, 2012; Turkle, 2011]; however, none have presented such a framework. The work of this thesis is to take up the challenge of creating a framework not only for the ethical evaluation of current care robot prototypes but to create a framework that can be used to steer the design process of future care robots. As such, the research question guiding this work is as follows: how can care robots used in care practices be designed and implemented in a way that supports and promotes the fundamental values in care.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • University of Twente
  • Brey, Philip A.E., Supervisor
Award date18 Jul 2012
Place of PublicationEnschede
Print ISBNs978-90-365-3391-1
Publication statusPublished - 18 Jul 2012


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