The Ethics of Exoskeletons

Privacy

As an extension of the human body, wearable robotics can record health data and usage statistics. Manufacturers could use this information to improve the functionality of the robotic system. But, it may also be used as a form of surveillance technology.

“Less Human”

In interviews with employees from Amazon fulfillment centers, workers discussed the hazardous working environment at the warehouses. One employee noted:

Cybersecurity

With any new technological device arises the opportunity for bad actors to take advantage of the system. Wearable robotics are vulnerable in the same way smart-home assistants and other IoT devices are. Given their size and complexity, wearable robotics and IoT devices lack the necessary computational power to protect against cyber attacks. Therefore, any data stored on the device may be at risk. As a result, wearable robotics may be especially vulnerable to brute force attacks, which anybody can simply learn how to carry out via youtube. And since these devices will be used in conjunction with humans, a cyber-attack could potentially harm the user.

Democratization

Although wearable robotic’s functions are presently limited, the field is set to explode in the future. And as is the concern with any new technology, the issue of equality becomes way too apparent. Prices of wearable robotics remain high, thus making them affordable to only a few. Prices will change as the technology changes, but these price fluctuations will create a discrepancy in access to wearables. Groups without access will be disadvantaged, and the opposite applies to groups with access. This technology can act as another separating factor between humans: those with and without wearable robotics. If left unaddressed, the issue will only perpetuate.

Future Steps

With all of the issues mentioned, the solution boils down to developing technology for social good: developing equitable and responsible technology for the benefit of society. Without guidance from the beginning, the vast, intrepid jungle that is technology will grow uncontrollably.

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