Aarhus University Seal / Aarhus Universitets segl


In alphabetical order (by author):

Service Robots from an Ethical Point of View

Service robots are spreading more and more. They are in our apartments, in hotels, hospitals and care homes, in shopping malls and on company premises, they conquer the streets and squares of our cities. In doing so, various challenges arise. The service robots need energy, they take our place, we collide with them and stumble over them, they monitor and control us, they communicate with us and elicit our secrets. They can be hacked, kidnapped and abused. In the first part of the lecture, Oliver Bendel presents several types of service robots like security, transport, therapy and care robots and discusses moral implications that arise in their context. He takes the perspectives of both information ethics and machine ethics. In the second part, he discusses the draft of a patient decree, with which patients can determine whether and how they want to be treated and cared for by a robot. However, the specifications may violate personal interests or the business interests of the hospital or nursing home. Oliver Bendel explains why he still believes in such a patient decree.

Oliver Bendel

Oliver Bendel was born in 1968 in Ulm. After completing his degree in philosophy and German philology as well as in information science at the University of Constance, and after his first professional experiences he did his doctorate in information systems at the University of St. Gallen. Bendel has been working in Germany and in Switzerland as a project manager for new media and as a supervisor of the engineering and science departments of several universities. Today he lives in Switzerland working as a freelance writer and as professor at the School of Business FHNW. Since 1998 he wrote about 250 scientific contributions, including diverse books such as “Die Rache der Nerds” (UVK, 2012) with reflections and storys in regard to information ethics, “300 Keywords Informationsethik” (Springer Gabler, 2016) about information ethics and machine ethics as well as “Die Moral in der Maschine” (Heise Medien, 2016) about moral machines.

The Moral, Legal, and Economic Hazard of Anthropomorphising Robots and AI

Computation, unlike mathematics, is a physical process that takes time, energy, and space.  Humans have dominated this planet's ecosystem by learning to share and consolidate the outcome of their computation in an unprecedented way.  Now we have augmented this processing with artificial intelligence (AI) and other information communications technology (ICT).  The impact on our society is so spectacular that our institutions are struggling to keep pace, including the social sciences that might help us understand the promises and risks of our new situation.  In this talk I will describe the theoretical biology of increasing communication between intelligent agents, and suggest changes to our individual, collective, political, and economic behaviour that might be consequences of the increasing presence of AI in our lives. Anthropomorphising – that is, over identifying with, and / or facilitating such overidentification – in most cases only exacerbates the complexity of forming coherent policy around these consequences.  I will close with a series of policy recommendations concerning governance of and legal status for intelligent ICT, economic redistribution, individual and collective security, and intellectual diversity.

Joanna Bryson

Joanna J. Bryson is a transdisciplinary researcher on the structure and dynamics of human- and animal-like intelligence. Her research covering  topics from artificial intelligence, through autonomy and robot ethics, and on to human cooperation has appeared in venues ranging from a reddit to Science.  She holds degrees in Psychology from Chicago and Edinburgh, and Artificial Intelligence from Edinburgh and MIT. She has additional professional research experience from Princeton, Oxford, Harvard, and LEGO, and technical experience in Chicago's financial industry, and international management consultancy. Bryson is presently a Reader (associate professor) at the University of Bath, and an affiliate of Princeton's Center for Information Technology Policy.

Ethics in Action - Considerations on Autonomous and Intelligent Systems

Ethical, legal and societal issues (ELS) raised by the development of intelligent, and autonomous systems have gained increasing interest both in the general public and in the involved scientific communities.

The development of applications often based on opaque deep learning programs that are prone to bias, the wide exploitation of personal data, growing automation, or applications and use cases such as personal robots, autonomous cars or autonomous weapons, are feeding a wide debate on multiple issues such as: the future of employment, privacy and intimacy protection, autonomous decision-making, moral responsibility and legal liability of robots, imitation of living beings and humans, the status of robots in society, affective relationship with robots, human augmentation, etc.

The question in developing autonomous and intelligent system technologies, which might have an unprecedented impact on our society, is finally about how to make them aligned with fundamental human values, and targeted towards increasing the wellbeing of humanity.

From the perspective of the designers of such systems, two main issues are central. Firstly, research methodologies and design processes themselves: how to define and adopt an ethical and responsible methodology for developing these technological systems so that they are transparent, explainable and so that they comply with human values? This involves several aspects that transform product lifecycle management approaches. Secondly, when decisions are delegated to so-called autonomous systems, is it possible to embed ethical reasoning in their decision-making processes?.

These issues will be overviewed in the talk, inspired by the ongoing reflection and work within the IEEE Global Initiative on Ethics of Autonomous and Intelligent Systems.

Raja Chatila

Raja Chatila, IEEE Fellow, is Professor at Sorbonne Université (Campus Pierre & Marie Curie) in Paris and Director of the Institute of Intelligent Systems and Robotics (ISIR), as well as of the SMART laboratory of excellence on human-machine interactions. He has served as President of the IEEE Robotics and Automation Society in 2014-2015. His research focus is on intelligent and autonomous robotics and he is author of over 150 publications in the domain. He is a member of the French Commission on the Ethics of Research on Digital Science and Technology (CERNA), and chair of the IEEE Global Initiative on Ethics of Autonomous and Intelligence Systems.

The EU perspective on Robotics & AI: economic, societal, research and policy aspects.

The keynote will address aspects of the European Commission activity in the field, with a mainly non-technological focus. It outlines the overall rationale for EU action in the field and its objectives, giving background to the research and innovation funding to the area and highlighting the economic, societal and policy perspective. This will be done with reference to Europe's position in the international context. The presentation will also take up aspects of the Commission's current thinking and the future outlook of AI.

Juha Heikkilä

Dr Juha Heikkilä joined the European Commission in 1998 and currently works in its Directorate-General for Communications Networks, Content and Technology. Since 2014 he has been the Head of its Robotics and Artificial Intelligence unit. The Commission has been funding a multidisciplinary research programme on Cognitive Systems, Robotics and AI for 13 years, focusing on smart and flexible robots and artificial systems. In recent years, the annual budget has been €70-80 million. At the beginning of 2014, a Public-Private Partnership in Robotics was set up, bringing together all the key European stakeholders in this area. In this partnership the European Commission will invest up to €700 million via the Horizon 2020 framework programme in roadmap-based research and innovation between 2014 and 2020. Previously, Dr Heikkilä was involved in computational and corpus linguistic research at the University of Helsinki, and he has a PhD in Linguistics from the University of Cambridge.

Studies on Interactive Robots

Robotics used to divide into two main fields: Navigation and Manipulation.

These fields study and develop only those robots that are optimized for the use in factories. Ishiguro, with researchers in other countries, has built a new field, Interaction. He started studying human-robot interaction and developed a humanoid interactive robot designed for ordinary use Furthermore, he is the first in the world to design and develop realistic humanlike robots called androids.

In this talk, he will introduce interactive and communicative personal robots and androids and discuss the technologies and scientific issues.

Especially, he will discuss on intention/desire, experiences, emotion and consciousness of the robots and androids.

Hiroshi Ishiguro

Hiroshi Ishiguro (M') received a D.Eng. in systems engineering from the Osaka University, Japan in 1991. He is currently Professor of Department of Systems Innovation in the Graduate School of Engineering Science at Osaka University (2009–) and Distinguished Professor of Osaka University (2017-). He is also visiting Director (2014-) (group leader: 2002-2013) of Hiroshi Ishiguro Laboratories at the Advanced Telecommunications Research Institute and an ATR fellow. His research interests include distributed sensor systems, interactive robotics, and android science. He has published more than 300 papers in major journals and conferences, such as Robotics Research and IEEE PAMI. On the other hand, he has developed many humanoids and androids, called Robovie, Repliee, Geminoid, Telenoid, and Elfoid. These robots have been reported many times by major media, such as Discovery channel, NHK, and BBC. He has also received the best humanoid award four times in RoboCup.

3 Callenges of AI for Society (and how (Not) to Address Them)

It is virtually undisputed that AI can have significant benefits for society: applications can be used to make farming more sustainable and production processes more environmentally friendly, improve the safety of transport, work and the financial system, provide better medical treatment and in countless other ways. Indeed, it could even potentially help eradicate disease and poverty. But the benefits associated with AI can only be achieved if the challenges surrounding it are also addressed. In her opinion on Artificial Intelligence & Society, Catelijne Muller, Rapporteur on Artificial Intelligence of the European Economic and Social Committee, has identified 11 areas where AI raises societal concerns, ranging from ethics, safety, transparency, privacy and standards to labour, education, access, laws and regulations, governance, democracy, but also warfare and superintelligence. She will zoom into 3 of these challenges in her keynote speech and offer some suggestions on how (not) to address them.

Catelijne Muller

Catelijne Muller is a member of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) and rapporteur of the recent EESC opinion “Artificial Intelligence and Society”. The EESC identifies 12 societal impact domains of AI and gives a number of concrete recommendations to address these. According to Catelijne, the potential of AI for humanity can only be fully reaped if these challenges are addressed in a smart and timely manner. This requires the involvement of all relevant stakeholders: policy-makers, industry, social partners, consumers, NGOs, educational and care institutions, and experts and academics from various disciplines, including philosophy. AI raises ethical questions for example where policy makers, businesses and other stakeholders will need philosophical elucidation.

Catelijne is an EU policy advisor for several trade union confederations in The Netherlands.

What Robots Still Can't Do

Drawing on the work of Hubert Dreyfus, Philip Agre, Daniel Dennett and other thinkers, this presentation considers some of the assumptions, or presumptions, which undergird some of the discourses in the field of social robotics, and questions of ethics with respect to technology. References and examples are drawn from popular culture and the history of technology. Observations are made regarding some continuities throughout the history of Artificial Intelligence. Questions of sociality and social commitment are explored from the perspective of embodied, enactive and situated cognition. The network perspective is considered, in terms of the place of robots within an extended technological network and within an ‘actor network’ including humans, and other actors.

Simon Penny


Professor of Art and Informatics, University of California, Irvine

Trained in sculpture, Penny extended his practice at the intersection of culture and technology as a maker, technical developer, teacher and theorist, first publishing in the area in 1987. As Professor of Art and Robotics at Carnegie Mellon, 1993-2000, he engaged robotics, VR and AI, and went on to found the Arts Computation Engineering (ACE) graduate program at UCI, 2001-2011. His longstanding concern for embodied and situated aspects of practice has led to a focus on what he refers to as postcogntivist approaches to cognition - the focus of his book Making Sense: Cognition, Computing, Art and Embodiment (MIT press 2017). He was director of A Body of Knowledge: Embodied Cognition and the Arts conference UCI 2016. He was Labex International Professor, Paris8 and ENSAD 2014; and visiting professor, Cognitive Systems and Interactive Media masters, University Pompeu Fabra Barcelona, 2006-2013. He is currently building an experimental ocean-going sailcraft based on Micronesian voyaging canoe designs. simonpenny.net 

The Precariat in Platform Capitalism

The combination of globalisation, neo-liberal economic policies and an ongoing technological revolution is generating a global labour market and producing a global class structure in which the precariat is the growing mass class. After defining the precariat, this presentation will consider how app-driven platform capitalism, and the growing use of AI and more sophisticated robots, is dragging millions more into the precariat through three distinctive forms of labour relation. These may be called, first, the concierge economy, second, cloud labour, and third, zero-hour or on-call employment. Each are facing growing economic and social insecurity, but in different ways, and each will be affected by the advance of robotization, including a new phenomenon, heteromation.

The presentation will argue that the platform corporations are essentially labour brokers, or rentiers, and that their business practices are transforming labour and work, while accentuating income inequality and pervasive economic insecurity. It will conclude with some policy recommendations that have yet to be presented by politicians of either right or left. 

Guy Standing


Guy Standing is Professorial Research Associate at the School of Oriental and African Studies< University of London. He is a Fellow of the British Academy of Social Sciences and co-founder and now honorary co-president of the Basic Income Earth Network (BIEN), an international NGO that promotes basic income.

He was previously Professor of Development Studies in SOAS, Professor of Economic Security, University of Bath, Professor of Labour Economics, Monash University, and Director of the ILO’s Socio-Economic Security Programme. He has been a consultant for many international bodies, including UNICEF, UNDP, the European Commission and the World Bank, has worked with SEWA in India for many years, and was Director of Research for President Mandela’s Labour Market Policy Commission.

His recent books include The Precariat: The New Dangerous Class (2011), which has been translated into 19 languages; A Precariat Charter (2014); with others, Basic Income – A Transformative Policy for India, and The Corruption of Capitalism: Why Rentiers Thrive and Work Does Not Pay (2016). His latest book is Basic Income: And how we can make it happen (Pelican, Penguin, 2017).

Robot Deus

The ascription of god-like properties to machines has a long tradition. Robots of today invite to do so. We will present and discuss god-like properties, to be found in movies as well as in scientific publications, advantages and risks of robots both as good or evil gods, and probably end with a robot theology.

Robert Trappl

Robert Trappl, born 1939, is the Head of the Austrian Research Institute for Artificial Intelligence (OFAI), a non-for-profit independent research institute with currently 23 employees. It is one of the leading research institutes in this area, having been e.g. partner or coordinator of more than 30 multinational projects, funded by the European Union. It is further partner in the “Human Brain Project“, one of the two Flagship Projects of the European Union.

Robert Trappl obtained a B.Eng. (“Ingenieur“) in Electrical Engineering, a Diploma in Sociology of the Institute for Advanced Studies, Vienna, a Ph.D. in Psychology with a Minor in Astronomy, and a Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.) in General Management. He is Professor Emeritus of Medical Cybernetics and Artificial Intelligence of the University of Vienna, and he is lecturing at this University, the Medical University of Vienna, and, beginning in the Fall Term 2017/18, at the University of Applied Arts.

Robert Trappl published more than 180 scientific papers and he co-wrote, edited and co-edited 35 books, most recently “A Construction Manual for Robots’ Ethical Systems“, Springer, Switzerland.  He is Editor-in-Chief of “Applied Artificial Intelligence“ and “Cybernetics and Systems“, both published in the U.S.A. 

In his spare time he performs contemporary dance. Recently he was invited to hold a workshop at the Impulstanz Festival 2017 which had the title “Artificial Intelligence Dance“. Sorry you missed it!

Josef Weidenholzer Title TBA


Josef Weidenholzer

Since 2011, Josef Weidenholzer is member of the European Parliament (MEP) and since 2015, he is vice-president of the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament. In his role as MEP, he is known for his social engagement in the areas of human rights, fundamental rights and consumer protection. When it comes to digital matters he works along the lines of “Better not get overrun by the future”. He actively works on the framework for a digital society and the digital internal market. Recently, his focus lay on the legal aspects of automation and net neutrality. Besides, he focusses on hate speech and fake news, as well as on data protection in terms of data exchange with the United States and in the area of big data.