Written by Lieve Van Woensel with James Tarlton,
What are cyber-physical systems?
The integration of Cyber-physical systems (CPS) into society promises many benefits, including increasing the efficiency and sustainability of many of our current practices, and creating new markets and growth. These promises include automated cars, mass-customisation of products, and smart technological aids for disabled people. Cyber-physical systems (CPS) are technical systems in which networked computers and robots interact with the physical world.
Explore our animated infographic on Cyber-physical systems
By 2050, these systems may interact with us in many domains, driving on our roads, moving alongside us in our daily lives and working within our industries. Due to the wide range of situations where we will interact with CPS, it is important to understand the considerable impacts that these systems could have on various aspects of our personal and professional lives.
While many potential benefits of CPS systems raise high expectations, past experience teaches us that the effects of newly introduced technologies can never be predicted perfectly. There are always unintended consequences – some good, others bad. It is therefore important to think ahead to avoid possible unintended negative effects on people’s lives, while ensuring that these technologies can benefit everyone.
Deployment of interconnected autonomous working machines in complicated data environments impact a number of legal areas, such as responsibility, liability, data ownership and privacy. Moreover, designing CPS for operation in proximity to humans means that current safety regulations need to be updated. Addressing all of these issues is vital to ensure that individuals are not harmed and that the desired benefits outweigh any potential unintended negative consequences.
A study on the ‘Ethical aspects of cyber-physical systems‘, recently conducted for the European Parliament’s STOA (Science and Technology Options Assessment) Panel, seeks to prepare MEPs for possible future developments in the area of robotics. The study examines the ways in which robots could soon become part of our society, to help MEPs anticipate any legislative challenges. The Scientific Foresight Unit (STOA), which managed the study, as part of EPRS, has published an animated infographic, developed to guide readers through the issues. The infographic highlights the range of concerns that require legal and ethical reflection, by linking different entry points (areas, concerns, and committees) with each other.
Explore this animated infographic and share your views with us.