Aarhus University Seal / Aarhus Universitets segl

Conference description

Sociable robots are designed to display the interactive capacities that we associate with human social competence, so that humans can “interact with them as if they were a person” (C. Breazeal).    Roboticists expect that sociable robots will soon be used at a large scale in public facilities and private homes, providing assistance, education, and entertainment.

Like no other area of technology before, social robotics raises fundamental questions about human nature and the future of humanity.  Are there limits to the functional simulations of social interactions, or are we willing to extend the ‘as-if’ of make-believe interactions into any area of everyday life? If humans accept the functional simulations of human capacities in human-robot interactions, will it change interactions among humans?  Will we be able to create intelligent agents with consciousness and feelings? Are there limits to the kinds of artificial capacities we should create?  Could we enhance our own humanity by interacting with fully rational agents? Will sociable robots ever be able to act on norms and for a reason?  How will Western concepts of subjectivity, normativity, and morality change, if we extend the space of human social interaction to include agents that seem incapable of standing in reciprocal conscious relations and incapable of mutually recognizing each others' rights and obligations?

The conference Robo-Philosophy—Social Robotics and the Future of Social Relations will address fundamental philosophical issues that arise with the design and use of sociable robots.  The term ‘robo-philosophy’ denotes a new subdiscipline in philosophy that treats these issues in close connection to empirical research on social robotics applications in robotics, psychology, anthropology, and cognitive science.  Robo-philosophy also clarifies how philosophical research can be used for the design and use of sociable robots.

Our keynote and plenary speakers are very well-known international protagonists of transdisciplinary research on social robotics.  Their lectures will discuss the most important current issues of social robotics from the point of view of philosophy of technology, ethics, robotics, psychology, and anthropology.  Other conference presentations will be based on reviewed paper submissions addressing one of the following main topics in robo-philosophy:



(1)  Ontology, e.g., 

  1. Ontological models of social interactions; generic
  2. The ontology of simulation; generic or specific
  3. Learning algorithms and the ontology of capacities; generic or specific
  4. Ontological models of specific social interactions
  5. Conditions for specific social interactions
  6. Conditions for normative agency
  7. Interactional ontological accounts for specific human capacities, roles, or social competences

(2)  Philosophy of mind and cognitive science, e.g.,

  1. The simulation of social cognition in robots
  2. The significance of social robotics for embodied cognition; generic and specific
  3. Feelings and emotions in robots
  4. Consciousness and the limits of AI
  5. Methodological problems for claims of functional similarity

(3)  Epistemology and knowledge representation, e.g.,

  1. The logic of dialogue
  2. Formal models of specific social competences
  3. Decision making with robots
  4. Superhuman knowledge
  5. Sociable robots in educational contexts

(4)  Ethics

  1. The moral status of sociable robots
  2. Sociable robots and the parameters of moral perceptions
  3. Sociable robots and moral education

(5)  Political and legal philosophy

  1. Non-human social agents and the notion of the political subject
  2. Robot rights and human rights

(6)  Comparative philosophy of technology

  1. Cross-cultural differences in designs of sociable robots
  2. Cross-cultural differences in aims of applications of sociable robots
  3. Cross-cultural differences in perceptions of sociable robots and metaphysical background assumptions