In 1942, the science fiction writer Isaac Asimov formulated his famous three laws of robotics. This was an early and influential milestone of thinking about programming instructions and morality at the same time. As a third level of priority, the robot may protect itself once it has obeyed all human commands except when commanded to harm a human. The robot would have to self-destruct if ordered to do so by a human. Although morality is the basis for the input, Asimov’s laws operate within the logic of the classical programming paradigm: we are the human programmers in charge, and we program these non-human robots! From today’s posthuman perspective, having understood that informatics is the most powerful force that shapes society, the economy, and our lives, we see that the question of morality and robots should be about the dialogical relationship between the robots and us. We are transformed by technology. How will we co-exist with non-human actors in society? How can our relationship with AI be part of creating a post-scarcity economy of less work and more creativity? What is the new relationship between law and code as exemplified by decentralized blockchain smart contracts? What is code in the new paradigm? How are moral algorithms depicted in science fiction films like «I Robot» and «Moon»?
Alan N. Shapiro is a thinker and essayist known for his work in media theory, transdisciplinary and future design, French postmodern philosophy, and science fiction studies. He has published the books Star Trek: Technologies of Disappearance (2004), The Technological Herbarium (2010), Die Software der Zukunft (2014), and Transdisziplinäre Gestaltung (2017). He has been visiting professor of design at the Folkwang University of the Arts (2015-2017). Since 2017, he teaches «future design research» at the University of Applied Sciences and Arts, Lucerne and media theory at the University of the Arts, Bremen. Alan has been the keynote speaker at many academic or business conferences and art festivals, most recently at the 2020 European Union conference on «Media in the Digital Society».