South Korean Robot Ethics Charter 2012

This Charter was drafted in order to prevent social ills that may arise out of inadequate social and legal measures to deal with robots in society.

Part 1: Manufacturing Standards

a) Robot manufacturers must ensure that the autonomy of the robots they design is limited; in the event that it becomes necessary, it must always be possible for a human being to assume control over a robot.

b) Robot manufacturers must maintain strict standards of quality control, taking all reasonable steps are taken to ensure that the risk of death or injury to the user is minimized, and the safety of the community guaranteed.

c) Robot manufacturers must take steps to ensure that the risk of psychological harm to users is minimized. ‘Psychological harm’ in this sense includes any likelihood for the robot to induce antisocial or sociopathic behaviors, depression or anxiety, stress, and particularly addictions (such as gambling addiction).

c) Robot manufacturers must ensure their product is clearly identifiable, and that this identification is protected from alteration.

d) Robots must be designed so as to protect personal data, through means of encryption and secure storage.

e) Robots must be designed so that their actions (online as well as real-world) are traceable at all times.

f) Robot design must be ecologically sensitive and sustainable.

Part 2: Rights & Responsibilities of Users/Owners

Sec. 1: Rights and Expectations of Owners and Users

i)     Owners have the right to be able to take control of their robot.

ii)    Owners and users have the right to use of their robot without risk or fear of physical or psychological harm.

iii)  Users have the right to security of their personal details and other sensitive information.

iv)  Owners and users have the right to expect a robot to perform any task for which it has been explicitly designed (subject to Section 2 of this Charter).

Sec. 2: Responsibilities of Owners and Users

This Charter recognizes the user’s right to utilize a robot in any way they see fit, so long as this use remains ‘fair’ and ‘legal’ within the parameters of the law. As such:

i)     A user must not use a robot to commit an illegal act.

ii)    A user must not use a robot in a way that may be construed as causing physical or psychological harm to an individual.

iii)  An owner must take ‘reasonable precaution’ to ensure that their robot does not pose a threat to the safety and well-being of individuals or their property.

Sec. 3:  The following acts are an offense under Korean Law:

i)     To deliberately damage or destroy a robot.

ii)    Through gross negligence, to allow a robot to come to harm.

iii)  It is a lesser but nonetheless serious offence to treat a robot in a way which may be construed as deliberately and inordinately abusive.

Part 3: Rights & Responsibilities for Robots

Sec. 1: Responsibilities of Robots

i)              A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.

ii)             A robot must obey any orders given to it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with Part 3 Section 1 subsection “i” of this Charter.

iii)           A robot must not deceive a human being.

Sec 2: Rights of Robots

Under Korean Law, Robots are afforded the following fundamental rights:

i)              The right to exist without fear of injury or death.

ii)             The right to live an existence free from systematic abuse.


The document above is a mock-up of what the South Korean Robot Ethics Charter (currently being drafted) may look like in the future, based on the limited information about the charter available from media reports (Read the National Geographic article here) . What do you think about the ideas in Part 2 and 3 of this Charter? Assuming robots will one day be conscious beings, should users behavior toward the robots be limited? Should robots have fundamental rights? Have your say below.

§ 3 Responses to South Korean Robot Ethics Charter 2012

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