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Hewlett-Packard Professor of Electronic Engineering, UWE Bristol Visiting Professor, Department of Electronics, University of York Director of the UWE Science Communication Unit EPSRC Senior Media Fellow I am deeply interested in mobile robots for two reasons: (1), they are complex and potentially useful machines that embody just about every design challenge and discipline there is and (2), robots allow us to address some deep questions about life, emergence, culture and intelligence in a radically new way, that is by building models. Thus, robotics is for me both engineering and experimental philosophy. I'm committed to the widest possible dissemination of research and ideas in science, engineering and technology and I believe that robots provide us with a wonderful vehicle for public engagement. Actually I would go a stage further and argue that intelligent robots will become ubiquitous in the near future and we therefore need to start a dialogue now about the ethical and moral questions that will arise.



NAO-humanoid-robot-robots-Aldebaran

When I was interviewed on the BBC Radio 4’s Today programme in 2014, Justin Webb’s final question was, “If you can make an ethical robot, doesn’t that mean you could make an unethical robot?” The answer, of course, is yes. But at the time, I didn’t realise quite how easy it is to transform a robot from ethical to unethical. In a new paper, we show how.

space-robotics-exploration

Ever since Elon Musk’s recent admission that he’s a simulationist, several people have asked me what I think of the proposition that we are living inside a simulation. My view is very firmly that the Universe we are right now experiencing is real. Here are my reasons.

To design a gendered robot is a deception. Robots cannot have a gender in any meaningful sense. To impose a gender on a robot, either by design of its outward appearance, or programming some gender stereotypical behaviour, cannot be for reasons other than deception – to make humans believe that the robot has gender, or gender specific characteristics.

by   -   April 12, 2016

regulation_google-buggy_car_autonomous_robocar-(1)Sooner or later there will be fatal accident caused by a driverless car. It’s not a question of if, but when. What happens immediately following that accident could have a profound effect on the nascent driverless car industry.

Is it possible to build a moral machine: a robot capable of choosing or moderating its actions on the basis of ethical rules? Three years ago, I thought the idea impossible. Since then I have changed my mind and developed and experimentally tested an ethical robot.

If you’re in the business of making ethical robots, then sooner or later you have to face the question: how ethical is your ethical robot?

by   -   April 20, 2015

BRL NAO with Stereo Headset_PGibbons

Yesterday I looked through the eyes of a robot.

It was a NAO robot fitted with a 3D printed set of goggles, so that the robot has two real cameras on its head (the eyes of the NAO robot are not in fact cameras). I was in another room wearing an Oculus Rift headset. The Oculus was hooked up to the NAO’s goggle cameras, so that I could see through those cameras – in stereo vision.

Imagine a swarm of microscopic robots that we inject into the vascular system: the swarm swims to the source of the problem, then either delivers therapeutics or undertakes microsurgery directly. That was how I opened a short invited talk at the Royal Society of Medicine, at a meeting themed The Future of Robotics in Surgery.

by   -   February 18, 2015

I am not anti-automation. Absolutely not. But I believe very strongly that the benefits of robotics and automation should be shared by all.

by   -   January 27, 2015

Robotics has the potential to be hugely beneficial to society, but is too important to leave to free-market capitalism.

by   -   January 22, 2015

door_open_book_science_fiction_data_mind_face_AI_intelligence_creativeOpen science isn’t one thing – it is a set of practices that range from making sure your papers are openly accessible (which is relatively easy), to open notebook science, which makes the process open – and not just the results. Open notebook science is, of course, much more demanding.

by   -   January 16, 2015

Robot-DNA_evolution

Evolutionary robotics has been around for about 20 years: it’s about 15 years since Stefano Nolfi and Dario Floreano published their seminal book on the subject. Yet, surprisingly the number of real, physical robots whose bodies have been evolved can be counted on the fingers of one hand.

by   -   December 18, 2014

If you write papers with results based on simulation and submit them for peer-review, then be warned: if I should review your paper then I will probably recommend it is rejected. Why? Because all of the many simulation-based papers I’ve reviewed in the last couple of years have been flawed.

by   -   December 1, 2014

We asked Alan Winfield what the first successful landing on a comet means for the future of space mining. Find out his answer below.

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