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BY-NC-ND 4.0 license Open Access Published by De Gruyter Open Access August 28, 2018

Towards animal-friendly machines

  • Oliver Bendel EMAIL logo


Semi-autonomous machines, autonomous machines and robots inhabit closed, semi-closed and open environments. There they encounter domestic animals, farm animals, working animals and/or wild animals. These animals could be disturbed, displaced, injured or killed. Within the context of machine ethics, the School of Business FHNW developed several design studies and prototypes for animal-friendly machines,which can be understood as moral machines in the spirit of this discipline. They were each linked with an annotated decision tree containing the ethical assumptions or justifications for interactions with animals. Annotated decision trees are seen as an important basis in developing moral machines. They are not without problems and contradictions, but they do guarantee well-founded, secure actions that are repeated at a certain level. This article documents completed and current projects, compares their relative risks and benefits, and makes proposals for future developments in machine ethics. The findings in this article and proposals for the future hope to systemically promote animal well-being and prevent animal suffering in encounters between machines and animals.


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Received: 2017-12-27
Accepted: 2018-06-12
Published Online: 2018-08-28

© by Oliver Bendel, published by De Gruyter

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 License.

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