IEEE Technology and Society Magazine - March 2018 - 20

[3], and more recently at GO and
Jeopardy as well, providing compan-
ionship, and organizing our lives and
homes. Other bots, when let loose
over interconnected networks, have
dramatically impacted political atti-
tudes [4], marketing strategies,
and official public records. Bots
have the ability to amass and distrib-
ute considerable power, especially
when teamed with artificial intelli-
gence and humans.
Law firms are increasingly using
bots to troll through large troves
of documents during the discovery
phase, for faster and arguably more
reliable searching, while medicine is
increasingly turning to sophisticated
algorithms to comb through medical
records and make more precise dia -
gnoses. How do we study, make
sense of, and impact or direct not
only these tangled and entrench-
ed socio-ethical implications, but
also our societ a l expect ations
and demands?
Most recently it has been "killer
robots" that made the headlines, as

It is difficult not to be
mesmerized by robotic
instrumentation demonstrating
beyond-human-like capabilities.
leading roboticists have increasingly
called for governments and others
to prohibit the production of military
drones, especially those that can
conduct highly targeted signature
strikes based on pattern-of-life data
[5]. Equally, as self-driving vehicles
move beyond real-world testing and
into the commercial market, millions
of transport workers worldwide are
thinking carefully about the future

20

of work and their fear of so-called
"technological unemployment."
And then there are those cam-
paigners who are calling for a ban on
sex robots [6]. A myriad of profound
and long-lasting social and policy
implications remain. It is incumbent
on researchers and readers of this
joint special issue from various dis-
ciplines, backgrounds, and roles, to
help policy makers and others grap-
ple with the effective responses to
this new era.
John C. Havens elegantly remind-
ed us recently, "it's easy to get caught
up in the idea that Artificial Intelli-
gence (AI) [or robotics] will be one
of two things: our destroyer or our
savior. It's time to move beyond this
dualistic narrative. The "either or"
comparisons create fear or unreal-
istic expectations, neither of which
pragmatically move society forward"
[7]. For Havens the emphasis should
be on "Extended Intelligence." Per-
haps analogously for our special
issue the emphasis should be on
"Human-Enhanced Robotics".
Havens cites Joi Ito
heavily in his piece for
IEEE USA and appears to
be similarly wary of reduc-
tionist approaches that usu-
ally polarize society to an
"either/or" debate [8]. As
illustrated by the pieces that
make up this special issue,
it simply isn't that easy. We
have accepted papers that
demonstrate both positive
and negative social impli-
cations of robotics; papers that are
in their nascent stages of proving in
the value of robotics with respect to
specific contexts, and papers that
prove that we have major challenges
ahead with respect to privacy, secu-
rity, trust, and robotics. We have a
range of empirically-based papers,
and papers that are more philo-
sophically-based in argumentation.
Only through the inclusion of all, sit-
IEEE Technology and Society Magazine

ting side by side to each other, are
readers able to understand the true
breadth and complexities presented
by today and tomorrow's robotics.
We hope that this special issue
will appeal to all our IEEE Technology and Society Magazine reader-
ship. As it is a joint special issue
with IEEE Robotics and Automation
Magazine, we hope it may also dem-
onstrate to engineers of all kinds
the importance of thinking about
the socio-ethical potential implica-
tions of their inventions - all the way
from robots in health, to robots for
the military, from robots that serve
a specific function in the workplace,
to bot software that might well be
used to misinform or manipulate
the masses. There are unintended
consequences to all innovations,
but perhaps what is of more inter-
est in this special issue are those
intended consequences and how
they play out [9], [10].

Guest Editor Information
Katina Michael is professor at the
Faculty of Engineering and Informa-
tion Sciences at the University of
Wollongong, Australia. Email: Katina@
uow.edu.au.
Diana Bowman is an associate
professor in the Sandra Day O'Connor
College of Law, Arizona State Uni-
versity, Tempe, AZ.
Meg Leta Jones is an assistant
professor at Georgetown Universi-
ty, Washington, DC.
Ramona Pringle is an assistant
professor in the RTA School of
Media at Ryerson University, Toron-
to, Canada, and Creative Director of
the Transmedia Zone, an incubator
for the future of media.

References
[1] C.D. Martin, "ENIAC: Press conference
that shook the world," IEEE Technology
& Society Mag., vol. 14, no. 4, pp. 3-10,
1995/1996.
[2] K. Michael, "Meet Boston Dynamics'
LS3 - The latest robotic war machine," The
Conversation, 2012; https://theconversation

∕

march 2018


https://theconversation.com/meet-boston-dynamics-ls3-the-latest-robot-ic-war-machine-9754

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