Medicine and Robotics
Scientific Opportunities and Ethical Questions
In these first decades of the 21st century, robotics in the medical field has exponentially expanded the register of perceptive, empathic, cognitive and operational capabilities of artificial agents with increasing autonomy. This contribution intends to deepen the relationship between natural and artificial, identifying issues relating to the difference or similarity between man and machine. Faced with the use of artificial humanoid agents, the SAR (Socially Interactive Robots) which form the variety of assistance robotic systems, studied above all for the care of the elderly and children affected by psychiatric pathologies, it seems necessary to overcome the perspective of exclusively utilitarian-consequential, or the one that sees them as simple “objects” to be manipulated, since the active presence of these artificial agents are programmed to "create" relationships, to enter into a “mutual” contact (even if of an asymmetrical type) both with nursing and medical staff, and with elderly or sick people. It goes without saying that it is the robotic engineer who creates/programs the robot; in short, it is man who manages the machine and directs it to certain specific tasks. This does not mean that the most sophisticated cobots (Collaborative robots) – robots capable of collaborating with man and responding to multiple expectations through different and articulated responses according to the human being in front of them – must assume and require a more articulated anthropological and ethical perspective.
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