The seven troubles with norm-compliant robots

Tom N. Coggins, Steffen Steinert*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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Many researchers from robotics, machine ethics, and adjacent fields seem to assume that norms represent good behavior that social robots should learn to benefit their users and society. We would like to complicate this view and present seven key troubles with norm-compliant robots: (1) norm biases, (2) paternalism (3) tyrannies of the majority, (4) pluralistic ignorance, (5) paths of least resistance, (6) outdated norms, and (7) technologically-induced norm change. Because discussions of why norm-compliant robots can be problematic are noticeably absent from the robot and machine ethics literature, this paper fills an important research gap. We argue that it is critical for researchers to take these issues into account if they wish to make norm-compliant robots.
Original languageEnglish
Article number29
JournalEthics and Information Technology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • Machine ethics
  • Norms
  • Robot ethics
  • Robots
  • Social norms
  • Social robots


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