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Politics, Law & Society

I took part in the first panel at the BSI conference The Digital World: Artificial Intelligence. The subject of the panel was AI Governance and Ethics. Emma (my co-panelist) and I each gave short opening presentations prior to the Q&A. The title of my talk was Why is Ethical Governance in AI so hard? Something I’ve thought about alot in recent months.

The climate emergency brooks no compromise: every human activity or artefact is either part of the solution or it is part of the problem. I’ve worried about the sustainability of consumer electronics for some time, and, more recently, the shocking energy costs of big AI. But the climate emergency has also caused me to think hard about the sustainability of robots.

In this technical talk, Chad Jenkins from the University of Michigan posed the following question: “who will pay the cost for the likely mistakes and potential misuse of AI systems?” As he states, “we are increasingly seeing how AI is having a pervasing impact on our lives, both for good and for bad. So, how do we ensure equal opportunity in science and technology?”

The European Commission has published a report by an independent group of experts on Ethics of Connected and Automated Vehicles (CAVs). This report advises on specific ethical issues raised by driverless mobility for road transport. The report aims to promote a safe and responsible transition to connected and automated vehicles by supporting stakeholders in the systematic inclusion of ethical considerations in the development and regulation of CAVs.

As the field of robotics matures, our community must grapple with the multifaceted impact of our research; in this article, we describe two previous workshops hosting robotics debates and advocate for formal debates to become an integral, standalone part of major international conferences, whether as a plenary session or as a parallel conference track.

The UK Robotics Growth Partnership (RGP) aims to set the conditions for success to empower the UK to be a global leader in Robotics and Autonomous Systems whilst delivering a smarter, safer, more prosperous, sustainable and competitive UK. The aim is for smart machines to become ubiquitous, woven into the fabric of society, in every sector, every workplace, and at home. If done right, this could lead to increased productivity, and improved quality of life. It could enable us to meet Net Zero targets, and support workers as their roles transition from menial tasks.

Astro Boy robot

The gendering of robots is something I’ve found fascinating since I first started building robots out of legos with my brother. We all ascribe character to robots, consciously or not, even when we understand exactly how robots work. Until recently we’ve been able to write this off as science fiction stuff, because real robots were boring industrial arms and anything else was fictional. However, since 2010, robots have been rolling out into the real world in a whole range of shapes, characters and notably, stereotypes. My original research on the naming of robots gave some indications as to just how insidious this human tendency to anthropomorphize and gender robots really is. Now we’re starting to face the consequences and it matters.

Robots are rolling out into the real world and we need to meet the emerging challenges in responsible fashion but one that doesn’t block innovation. At the recent ARM Developers Summit 2020 I shared my suggestions for five practical steps that we could undertake at a regional, national or global level as part of the Five Laws of Robotics presentation (below).

Last week my colleague Dieter Vanderelst presented our paper: The Dark Side of Ethical Robots at AIES 2018 in New Orleans.

by   -   February 2, 2018

K. Daron Acemoglu, the Elizabeth and James Killian Professor of Economics at MIT, is a leading thinker on the labor market implications of artificial intelligence, robotics, automation, and new technologies.
Photo: Jared Charney

By Meg Murphy
K. Daron Acemoglu, the Elizabeth and James Killian Professor of Economics at MIT, is a leading thinker on the labor market implications of artificial intelligence, robotics, automation, and new technologies. His innovative work challenges the way people think about these technologies intersect with the world of work. In 2005, he won the John Bates Clark Medal, an honor shared by a number of Nobel Prize recipients and luminaries in the field of economics.

In the past decade, countries and regions around the globe have developed strategic roadmaps to guide investment and development of robotic technology. Roadmaps from the US, South Korea, Japan and EU have been in place for some years and have had time to mature and evolve. Meanwhile roadmaps from other countries such as Australia and Singapore are just now being developed and launched. How did these strategic initiatives come to be? What do they hope to achieve? Have they been successful, and how do you measure success?


This blogpost is a round up of the various sets of ethical principles of robotics and AI that have been proposed to date, ordered by date of first publication. The principles are presented here (in full or abridged) with notes and references but without commentary. If there are any (prominent) ones I’ve missed please let me know.

The International Conference on Robot Ethics and Safety Standards (ICRESS-2017) took place in Lisbon, Portugal, from 20th to 21st October 2017. Maria Isabel Aldinhas Ferreira and João Silva Sequeira coordinated the conference with the aim to create a vibrant multidisciplinary discussion around pressing safety, ethical, legal and societal issues of the rapid introduction of robotic technology in many environments.

As AI surpasses human abilities in Go and poker – two decades after Deep Blue trounced chess grandmaster Garry Kasparov – it is seeping into our lives in ever more profound ways. It affects the way we search the web, receive medical advice and whether we receive finance from our banks.

Instead of worrying so much about robots taking away jobs, maybe we should worry more about wages being too low for robots to even get a chance. Seasonal labor for harvesting agricultural products, particularly fruits and vegetables, is dependent on human labor from a diminishing universe of willing workers.



Marsupial Robots
September 14, 2021


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