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Responsible domestic robotics: exploring ethical implications of robots in the home

Urquhart, Lachlan; Reedman-Flint, Dominic; Leesakul, Natalie


Lachlan Urquhart

Dominic Reedman-Flint

Natalie Leesakul


Purpose: The vision of robotics in the home promises increased convenience, comfort, companionship, and greater security for users. The robot industry risks causing harm to users, being rejected by society at large, or being regulated in overly prescriptive ways if robots are not developed in a socially responsible manner. The purpose of this paper is to explore some of the challenges and requirements for designing responsible domestic robots.
Design/methodology/approach: The paper examines definitions of robotics and the current commercial state of the art. In particular it considers the emerging technological trends, such as smart homes, that are already embedding computational agents in the fabric of everyday life. The paper then explores the role of values in design, aligning with human computer interaction and considers the importance of the home as a deployment setting for robots. The paper examines what responsibility in robotics means and draws lessons from past home information technologies. An exploratory pilot survey was conducted to understand user concerns about different aspects of domestic robots such as form, privacy and trust. The paper provides these findings, married with literature analysis from across technology law, computer ethics and computer science.
Findings: By drawing together both empirical observations and conceptual analysis, this paper concludes that user centric design is needed to create responsible domestic robotics in the future.
Originality/value: This multidisciplinary paper provides conceptual and empirical research from different domains to unpack the challenges of designing responsible domestic robotics.


Urquhart, L., Reedman-Flint, D., & Leesakul, N. (2019). Responsible domestic robotics: exploring ethical implications of robots in the home. Journal of Information, Communication and Ethics in Society, 17(2), 246-272.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jan 31, 2019
Online Publication Date May 13, 2019
Publication Date May 13, 2019
Deposit Date Feb 12, 2019
Publicly Available Date Feb 12, 2019
Journal Journal of Information, Communication and Ethics in Society
Print ISSN 1477-996X
Electronic ISSN 1758-8871
Publisher Emerald
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 17
Issue 2
Pages 246-272
Keywords Robotics; Trust; Privacy; Social responsibility; Human-comp interaction Journal of Information; Communication & Ethics in Society
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information This is a post-peer-review, pre-copyedit version of an article published in Journal of Information, Communication and Ethics in Society. The final authenticated version is available online at:


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