HL Extension

3.11 Robotics, artificial intelligence and expert systems


The increasing capability of IT systems has allowed developers to implement systems that attempt to understand and imitate human behaviour. These systems have already had profound effects on society, although their effectiveness is largely determined by the accuracy of the algorithms that underpin them.

The increasing use of robotics, artificial intelligence (AI) and expert systems raises a range of ethical issues. For example, at which point should humans hand over key decision-making to a computer? Should robots have the same rights as humans? What social impacts might arise with the replacement of human workers or the creation of smart weapons?

Possible scenario

A hospital administrator is considering using a computer-controlled robotic device to assist with knee surgery. The robotic system models the patient’s knee area prior to surgery. During the procedure the robot is controlled by the surgeon using a joystick. The system eliminates the effects of tremors in the surgeon’s hands and limits the range of movement of the cutter to areas of the knee that have been predetermined by the model. Although there are claims that the surgery is less invasive and patients have a shorter recovery time, questions may be raised about the reliability and the cost of the system.

IT concepts to address in this topic

Expert systems


Artificial intelligence

Machine learning

Examples of applications of robotics, artificial intelligence and expert systems