Gordon Briggs and Tom Williams and Ryan Blake Jackson and Matthias Scheutz


International Journal of Social Robotics

Publication Year

Language-enabled robots with moral reasoning capabilities will inevitably face situations in which they have to respond to human commands that might violate normative principles and could cause harm to humans. We believe that it is critical for robots to be able to reject such commands. We thus address the two key challenges of when and how to reject norm-violating directives. First, we present research in both engineering language-enabled robots that can engage in rudimentary rejection dialogues, as well as related HRI research into the effectiveness of robot protest. Second, we argue that how rejections are phrased is important and review the factors that should guide natural language formulations of command rejections. Finally, we conclude by identifying relevant open questions that will further inform the design of future language-capable and morally competent robots.