Ethical Associations With Robotics and Income

Building upon the concept of how religious or cultural principles impact the economic and social constructs relative to robotics, we must study how varying cultural ethics influence the divergence, and that of a capitalist society. Ultimately for my research project the distinction of religious and cultural ethics on robotics, the impact on the international economy, basic income and how such effects the current capitalist community will be the central focus.

Kitano (2015) argues that the cultural divergence of automation is relative to ethics. With ‘Rinri’ the term for ethics in Japanese associated with the harmonisation of society, with each individual forming a responsibility and accountability to that community. Moreover robots identify with their proprietor, and through such responsibility are just as accountable for the harmonisation of Japanese society. However the rapid development of Japan’s economy following World War II, with the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) of Japan stating the robotics industry as one of the most critical in the modern economy, has ultimately failed to provide the platform for conversation regarding human-robotic interaction.

Western ethics consists of varying subjectivities contrast to Japan’s, we can convey the Western dissonance to robotics beyond idolatry with that of the ‘protestant work ethic,’ in which discipline, prudence and effort are the effect of an individual’s confidence in Protestant commitment (Westby, D. 1997). Additionally ‘protestant work ethic’ has been correlated to that of ‘spirit of capitalism’ (Westby, D. 1997), thus through such beliefs development of robotic industries has become of major economic concern to some, challenging that of a capitalist society and application of the notion of universal income (Forrest, A. 2015).

Through the developing automation industry the concept of universal basic income has become an increasing debate. The ‘protestant work ethic,’ central to that of capitalism, may be the hurdle of such income generated from robotics. Wells (2014) argues that this is due to our social systems, such as education, have been constructed to complement the labor market relative to economic productivity. However such work ethic would be irrelevant with considerable absence of jobs.


Forrest, A. (2015) What happens when robots take our jobs? The Big Issue, viewed 21.03.16 <>

Kitano, N. (2015) Animism, Rinri, Modernization; the Base of Japanese Robotics, School of Social Sciences, Waseda University, viewed 21.03.15 < >

Wesby, D. (1997) Protestant Ethic, viewed 22.03.16<>

Wells, T. (2014) The Robot Economy and the Crisis of Capitalism: Why We Need Universal Basic Income, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, viewed 04-03-16 <>  

2 thoughts on “Ethical Associations With Robotics and Income”

  1. The changes to society that we would go through if the world was mostly run by robots is a great topic of interest to me, especially touching on the economic aspects. Also, if the majority of the world’s jobs were done by robots, it would be amazing to have an overwhelming amount of free time where you could practically do anything with. Obviously, this is an idealized view of the robot uprising, but I like to think of it in a positive light as most technologies we create are made to save time and make things easier for ourselves.
    Touching on your mention of basic income, Switzerland will become the first country to have a referendum on basic income this coming June:
    It will be interesting to see what is decided and what effects it will have, even more so if this eventually happens on a national scale!


  2. That is a really interesting point you bring up about robotics and ethics. We talk a lot about the prospect of robots and AI’s learning and evolving from our hubris, but religion is a very central part to the discussion of humanity’s ethics. If a robot has sentience, can it believe in a higher power like God? It’s a philosophical question quite overlooked in the discussion because it is so based in a world of science. You touched briefly on that other discussion on robots overtaking the working industry, and it felt a bit disjointed from the other points you bring up. It is a crossroad of idealogies future robotics could present. They will greatly alter our capitalistic orientated society.
    I think I may have strayed from your train of thought but it was something interesting to ponder over. If religion is worshipping the supposed ‘creator’, what would that make humans in the eyes of the robot?


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