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Alan Winfield


Thoughts on the EU’s draft report on robotics

I was asked to write a short op-ed on the European Parliament Law Committee's recommendations on civil law rules for robotics. In the end, the piece didn't get published, so I am posting it here:...
08 May 2017, by

The Robot Economy: Interview with Alan Winfield

Robots and their impact on the economy is on the forefront of everyone’s mind. Will robots increase productivity and jobs, improve society, and will wealth be shared? To address this question, we’...
24 August 2016, by

The dark side of ethical robots

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 ans...
09 August 2016, by

Robust and transparent governance is key to building trust in driverless cars

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 nasce...
12 April 2016, by

Robotics needs to get political

A couple of weeks ago I was a panelist on a public debate at the 2014 Battle of Ideas. The title of the debate was The robots are coming: friends or foes? with a focus not on the technology but the ...
27 January 2015, by

Robot simulators and why I will probably reject your paper

Dear robotics and AI researcher, Do you use simulation as a research tool? If you write papers with results based on simulation and submit them for peer-review, then be warned: if I should review y...
18 December 2014, by


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Philae: A proof of concept for cometary landing

We asked Alan Winfield what the first successful landing on a comet means for the future of space mining. Find out his answer below. The successful landing of Philae on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasim...
01 December 2014, by

The feeling of what it is like to be a robot

Philosopher Thomas Nagel famously characterised subjective experience as “something that it is like to be…” and suggested that for a bat, for instance, there must be something that it is like to...
17 October 2014, by

Experiments designing an ethical robot

In my last post I wrote about our work on robots with internal models: robots with a simulation of themselves and their environment inside themselves. I explained that we have built a robot with a ...
30 September 2014, by

In praise of robot football

Republished here is a short piece for The Conversation reflecting on robot football: 4-4-2 becomes 0101: inside the competitive world of robot football, published 4 August 2014. This summer the ...
09 September 2014, by

On internal models, consequence engines and Popperian creatures

So. We've been busy in the lab the last few months. Really exciting. Let me explain. For a couple of years I've been thinking about robots with internal models. Not internal models in the classical...
08 September 2014, by

We should not be privileging the singularity hypothesis | Alan Winfield via The Guardian

By worrying unnecessarily [about the Singularity hypothesis] I think we’re falling into a trap: the fallacy of privileging the hypothesis. And – perhaps worse – taking our eyes off other risks ...
03 September 2014, by

Your robot doggie could really be pleased to see you

There have been several stories in the last few weeks about emotional robots - robots that feel. Some are suggesting that this is the next big thing in robotics. It's something I wrote about in t...
02 September 2014, by

What would be the energy cost of artificially evolving human-equivalent AI?

Want to create human-equivalent AI? Well, broadly speaking, there are three approaches open to you: design it, reverse-engineer it or evolve it. The third of these - artificial evolution - is attrac...
28 July 2014, by

The next big things in robotics

Last week I attended the launch event for a new NESTA publication called Our work here is done: Visions of a Robot Economy....
08 July 2014, by

Why robots will not be smarter than humans by 2029

Statue of Alan Turing. Photo credit: Neil Crosby In the last few days we've seen a spate of headlines like 2029: the year when robots will have the power to outsmart their makers, all occasioned by ...
07 March 2014, by

Alan Winfield on “What does it mean to have giants like Google, Apple and Amazon investing in robotics?”

  Judging by the levels of media coverage and frenzied speculation that has followed each acquisition, the short answer to what does it mean is: endless press exposure. I almost wrote 'priceless exp...
12 February 2014, by

Soft robotics in space

Space robotics is understandably conservative. When the cost of putting a robot on a planet, moon or asteroid runs into the billions we need to be sure the technology will work. And with very long pro...
14 December 2013, by

Noisy imitation speeds up group learning

Broadly speaking there are two kinds of learning: individual learning and social learning. Individual learning means learning something entirely on your own, without reference to anyone else who might...
03 December 2013, by

Ethical robots: Some technical and ethical challenges

I've been talking about robot ethics for several years now, but that's mostly been about how we roboticists must be responsible and mindful of the societal impact of our creations. Two years ago I w...
19 November 2013, by

A close(ish) encounter with Voyager 2

It is summer 1985. I'm visiting Caltech with colleague and PhD supervisor Rod Goodman. Rod has just been appointed in the Electrical Engineering Department at Caltech, and I'm still on a high from ...
27 October 2013, by

Don’t build robots, build robot systems

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons. Why aren't there more intelligent mobile robots in real world applications? It's a good question, and one I'm often asked. The answer I give most often is tha...
07 October 2013, by

The triangle of life: Evolving robots in real-time and real-space

At the excellent European Conference on Artificial Life (ECAL) a couple of weeks ago we presented a paper called The Triangle of Life: Evolving Robots in Real-time and Real-space (this links...
20 September 2013, by

Memories of Skyrim

From time to time I like to visit Skyrim. I've been going there for about 2 years - completed the main quest a year or so ago, and since then go back to undertake a side quest or, more often that not,...
26 August 2013, by

The scourge of the RoboTroll is already upon us

When a robot ethics working group met nearly three years ago one of the things we fretted about was privacy. We were concerned especially about personal companion robots. Whatever their purpose, be it...
22 August 2013, by

When robots start telling each other stories…

About 6 years ago the late amazing Richard Gregory said to me, with a twinkle in his eye, "when your robots start telling each other stories, then you'll really be onto something". It was a remark wit...
31 July 2013, by

Robotics has a new kind of Cartesian Dualism, and it’s just as unhelpful

I believe robotics has re-invented mind-body dualism. At the excellent European Robotics Forum earlier this year, I attended a workshop called AI meets Robotics....
22 July 2013, by

euRathlon and the DARPA Robot Challenge: A difference of approach

  A week ago the DARPA Robotics Challenge unveiled the ATLAS humanoid robot, which will be used by seven competing teams. Developed by Boston Dynamics, ATLAS is an imposing 1.8m 150Kg bipedal humano...
22 July 2013, by

New Robotics and new opportunities

Here are the slides of my talk at the BARA Academic Forum for Robotics meeting Robotics: from innovation to service, on Monday 20 May 2013:...
28 May 2013, by

Alan Winfield on “What is the single biggest obstacle preventing robotics from going mainstream?”

Well it depends on what you mean by mainstream. For a number of  major industry sectors robotics is already mainstream. In assembly-line automation, for instance; or undersea oil well maintenance and...
15 May 2013, by







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