Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Robot ethics at the EPSRC societal issues panel

Tough afternoon yesterday. Why? I'll come to that. Along with the other senior media fellows, I attended EPSRC's Societal Issues Panel, chaired by Robert Winston. Before getting the invitation I didn't know about this group, but came away very impressed with just how deeply serious EPSRC is about engaging with public attitudes and concerns about science research and the potential societal impact of its funded research programmes.

As the new boy there wasn't much I could contribute to the main session, when the panel wanted to hear from the senior media fellows about their experiences and what more, or differently, the panel could do in its work. But listening to the SMFs experiences was for me incredibly useful. It was like getting a master class from not one but a whole group of virtuosi, concentrated into two hours.

But the tough bit was to follow. Noel Sharkey and I had been asked to stay for another agenda item on the potential ethical and societal impact of intelligent robots, artificial intelligence and autonomous systems. Noel and I each gave short introductions to what we thought were the main issues and I focussed on the ethical questions raised by research in intelligent robotics - i.e. the ethical roboticist.

postscript: The Ethical Roboticist


  1. Glad you found the meeting interesting and useful. I thought the input from Noel and yourself was equally stimulating and provocative.

    Mark Claydon-Smith
    Head of Programme
    Materials, Mechanical, Medical Engineering

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