Confucianism – not only for humans, but also for robots: how this ancient philosophy can contribute to social progress
A scientist from Singapore proposes Confucian ethics as an alternative to the recognition of robots as subjects of law.
Robots are getting smarter, more complex and more autonomous. Some scientists and philosophers argue that robots should be given rights like humans to protect them from exploitation and cruelty. However, this approach can have negative consequences for society and human dignity.
Renowned philosophers and legal experts have explored the moral and legal implications of robots, and some have advocated empowering robots. As robots become more integrated into various aspects of life, a recent review of robot rights research concluded that extending robot rights is a bad idea. Instead, the study proposes an approach inspired by Confucianism.
In a new article published In the journal Communications of the ACM, published by the Association for Computing Machinery, Professor Zhang Zhi of the University of Singapore offers an alternative perspective on the relationship between humans and robots based on Confucian ethics. Confucianism is an ancient Chinese philosophy that emphasizes the importance of harmony, virtue, and roles in society.
According to Professor Zhang, robots are not subjects of law, since they do not have free will, consciousness and feelings. However, they can be useful partners for people in various areas of life such as education, healthcare and entertainment. In this case, robots should be respected and caring objects of human responsibility, not equals or subordinates.
Professor Zhang believes that Confucian ethics can help shape a healthier and more humane relationship between humans and robots that will promote the common good and social progress. He calls for the development of new standards and norms of behavior for robots and humans that will reflect Confucian values such as good faith, justice, reciprocity and compassion.