Plenary Speakers

Wednesday 4th April

Kerstin Dautenhahn - University of Hertfordshire

Kerstin Dautenhahn

Will the future be bright for Social Robots?

We are often envisaging a future where robots will be part of our daily lives, e.g. in work and home environments. However, whether or not this vision will come true will depend on many factors, not only regarding the need for safe, robust and reliable hardware and software, but also on other factors such as acceptability, trust and people's expectations of robots. 

Robots that operate in human-inhabited environments require social skills to interact and communicate with people - this could range from brief, short-term interactions, to scenarios where interactions are frequent, extended and long-term. 

This talk will provide some examples of human-robot interaction research, highlighting the challenges but also the opportunities for social robots.

Alan Winfield

Thursday 5th April

Alan Winfield - University of the West of England, Bristol

The Ethical Roboticist

In the last 10 years machine ethics has changed from a niche concern of a small group of academics to a subject of intense societal, political and media interest, with multiple initiatives since 2016, notably from the US White House, EU and UK parliaments, and the Japanese Government. An informal survey reveals that at least 10 sets of ethical principles for robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) have been proposed to date, 7 of which were published in 2017.

What has driven this explosion of interest in machine ethics? The recent high profile successes of Deep Learning have no doubt played a key role, exemplified by the dramatic success of DeepMind’s AlfaGo AI in defeating the world’s best Go player in 2016. Advances in AI alongside real-world trials of driverless cars – and a good deal of media hype – are driving significant investment in AI and robotics companies while also raising public and political concerns over the societal and economic implications of a fourth industrial revolution.

I am often asked the question: what does professor of robot ethics do? In this talk I will outline my work in both robotics and AI ethics, and in ethical robots. Robot and AI ethics is concerned with the human problem of the ethical design and application of robots and robotic systems, whereas ethical robots describes the technical problem of how to design robots and AIs that are capable of choosing actions on the basis of ethical considerations. That we need the former is incontrovertible, while the latter remains a subject of intense debate.

Ruth Aylett

Friday 6th April

Ruth Aylett - Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh

Giving embodied social agents a culture

Embodied social agents, whether graphical or robotic must act competently in everyday human social environments.

However, many of us know from our own experience that the norms of social behaviour vary across different cultures. How can we create agents that will fit into different cultures? Can we sue such agents to teach humans about cultural sensitivity?

This keynote will discuss modelling approaches and how one might use them to create educational agents.