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The case for an ethical black box

Winfield, Alan F.; Jirotka, Marina


Marina Jirotka


Yang Gao


This paper proposes that robots and autonomous systems should be equipped with the equivalent of a Flight Data Recorder to continuously record sensor and relevant internal status data. We call this an ethical black box. We argue that an ethical black box will be critical to the process of discovering why and how a robot caused an accident, and thus an essential part of establishing accountability and responsibility. We also argue that without the transparency afforded by an ethical black box, robots and autonomous systems are unlikely to win public trust.


Winfield, A. F., & Jirotka, M. (2017). The case for an ethical black box. In Y. Gao (Ed.), Towards Autonomous Robot Systems (1-12). Springer

Online Publication Date Jul 20, 2017
Publication Date Jul 20, 2017
Deposit Date May 9, 2017
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Pages 1-12
Series Title Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence
Book Title Towards Autonomous Robot Systems
Keywords robot ethics, ethical governance, traceability, transparency, responsible robotics, trust
Public URL