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The crying shame of robot nannies

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Childcare robots are being manufactured and developed with the long term aim of creating surrogate carers. While total childcare is not yet being promoted, there are indications that it is ‘on the cards’. We examine recent research and developments in childcare robots and speculate on progress over the coming years by extrapolating from other ongoing robotics work. Our main aim is to raise ethical questions about the part or full-time replacement of primary carers. The questions are about human rights, privacy, robot use of restraint, deception of children and accountability. But the most pressing ethical issues throughout the paper concern the consequences for the psychological and emotional wellbeing of children. We set these in the context of the child development literature on the pathology and causes of attachment disorders. We then consider the adequacy of current legislation and international ethical guidelines on the protection of children from the overuse of robot care.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2010-07-06

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  • Social Behaviour and Communication in Biological and Artificial Systems
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