A robot is a machine. One definition of a machine, used by people like Alan Turing who invented the concept of a modern computer, is a rule-following device. A computer, and by extension, a robot satisfies this definition. Computers are rule-following devices. They do what we program them to do; no more, no less.

Clearly, some of what humans do is to follow rules. There are rules of social etiquette, of classroom behavior. There are road rules and the rules of logic. People who are cognitively concrete operational are rule followers. In the area of morality, being concrete operational is also what Lawrence Kohlberg described as ‘conventional.’ The conventional thinker knows that, generally speaking, stealing is wrong, slavery is wrong and murder is always wrong. But they don’t know why and don’t have the cognitive wherewithal to figure out why.Read on