Many people assume that robots would have to be sentient before they could act ethically. But this is not the case, says Alan Winfield, Director of the Science Communication Unit at the University of the West of England.

“The robot behaves ethically not because it chooses to but because it’s programmed to do so,” he says. “We call it an ethical zombie.”

In this video for the World Economic Forum's IdeasLab series, Winfield poses the question: “If we can build even minimally ethical robots, are we morally compelled to do so?”

And with driverless cars just around the corner, it’s a question that we’re going to have to answer quite soon.