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BY 4.0 license Open Access Published by De Gruyter Open Access January 18, 2019

“I’ll take care of you,” said the robot

Reflecting upon the legal and ethical aspects of the use and development of social robots for therapy

  • Eduard Fosch-Villaronga EMAIL logo and Jordi Albo-Canals


The insertion of robotic and artificial intelligent (AI) systems in therapeutic settings is accelerating. In this paper, we investigate the legal and ethical challenges of the growing inclusion of social robots in therapy. Typical examples of such systems are Kaspar, Hookie, Pleo, Tito, Robota,Nao, Leka or Keepon. Although recent studies support the adoption of robotic technologies for therapy and education, these technological developments interact socially with children, elderly or disabled, and may raise concerns that range from physical to cognitive safety, including data protection. Research in other fields also suggests that technology has a profound and alerting impact on us and our human nature. This article brings all these findings into the debate on whether the adoption of therapeutic AI and robot technologies are adequate, not only to raise awareness of the possible impacts of this technology but also to help steer the development and use of AI and robot technologies in therapeutic settings in the appropriate direction. Our contribution seeks to provide a thoughtful analysis of some issues concerning the use and development of social robots in therapy, in the hope that this can inform the policy debate and set the scene for further research.


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Received: 2018-07-16
Accepted: 2018-11-19
Published Online: 2019-01-18

© 2019 Eduard Fosch-Villaronga, Jordi Albo-Canals, published by De Gruyter

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 Public License.

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