Against robot dystopias

Thinking through the ethical, legal and societal issues of robotics and automation (AGAINST-20)

Full-day workshop at ICRA 2020 (now virtual)

June 4th 2020


The mission of this workshop is twofold:
1. To identify ethical, legal and societal issues within robotics and automation.
2. To introduce and discuss technical methods for addressing these issues.

Intelligent robots come with promises of great value to society but can also be seen as threats in terms of job loss, increased social inequalities, transparency and privacy, age/race/gender bias in training or design, autonomous warfare, excessive delegation of decision-making, etc. This workshop aims to put forth a diversity of viewpoints from experts not only in robotics and AI but also disciplines that are close to the real-world use of robots: economics, social science, gender studies, and philosophy. Together we want to explore possible outcomes of increased uptake of intelligent robots, and contribute to ethical frameworks and good practices.

Attention to ethical issues in robotics in general, from transparency to privacy, jobs, discrimination and others, has been missing from large robotics conferences such as ICRA and IROS. The robotics community has been lagging behind on the discussion of these concerns. In this workshop we will, with the help of a multidisciplinary cast of invited speakers, think through some of the most important ethical issues and start a dialogue between technical researchers and philosophers, economists and social scientists. We will do this explicitly right from the organization of the workshop, which will consist of interleaved blocks of technical and issue-raising talks.

Special Issue

We are thrilled to announce a forthcoming research topic (i.e., special issue) in the journal "Frontiers in Robotics and AI", section "Ethics in Robotics and Artificial Intelligence". This special issue is connected to the theme of the workshop and is open to everyone (even if you did not submit a paper).

More details: Responsible Robotics: Identifying and Addressing Issues of Ethics, Fairness, Accountability, Transparency, Privacy and Employment
Submission deadline: November 24, 2020

Invited speakers

All times are Paris (CEST) time.

  • Alan Winfield

    10:30 - 11:00

    Robot Accident Investigation: a case study in Responsible Robotics

    Alan Winfield www

  • Andreas Theodorou

    11:00 - 11:30

    Glass is the new black: Going Beyond High-Level Guidelines

    Andreas Theodorou www

  • Dag Balkmar

    11:30 - 12:00

    Masculinity and autonomous vehicles

    Dag Balkmar www

  • Hildegunn Kyvik Nordås

    12:30 - 13:00

    Labour market effects of artificial intelligence

    Hildegunn Kyvik Nordås www

  • Christoph Lutz

    13:00 - 13:30

    Privacy issues in robotics

    Christoph Lutz www

  • Ludovic Righetti

    14:30 - 15:00

    Dual use issues in robotics

    Ludovic Righetti www

  • AJung Moon

    15:00 - 15:30

    Ethical human-robot interaction

    AJung Moon www

  • Tathagata Chakraborti

    15:30 - 16:00

    404. Expected plan not found.

    Tathagata Chakraborti www

  • William Smart

    16:30 - 17:00

    Methods for privacy-aware robotics

    William Smart www

  • Anca Dragan

    17:00 - 17:30

    Value alignment in robotics

    Anca Dragan www

Accepted papers

1. Tommaso Colombino, Shreepriya Shreepriya, Danilo Gallo, "Designing a robot platform for disabled employees: some practical ethical considerations" [PDF]

2. Júlia Pareto Boada, "Social robotics and the outsource of agency: untangling the ethical approach" [PDF]

3. Benjamin Krarup, Senka Krivic, Felix Lindner, Derek Long, "Towards Contrastive Explanations for Comparing the Ethics of Plans" [PDF]

4. P. Michael Furlong, "Autonomy and Economic Pressures to Minimize Costs Conflicts with a Consumer Economy" [PDF]


Youtube playlist with all recorded talks and panel available here.

Session 1: Responsible robotics and societal impact
10:15 - 10:30 Opening (organizers)
10:30 - 11:00 Alan Winfield Alan Winfield University of West of England "Robot Accident Investigation: a case study in Responsible Robotics" (video)
11:00 - 11:30 Andreas Theodorou Andreas Theodorou Umea University "Glass is the new black: Going Beyond High-Level Guidelines"
11:30 - 12:00 Dag Balkmar Dag Balkmar Orebro University "Masculinity and autonomous vehicles" (video)
12:00 - 12:30 Lunch
12:30 - 13:00 Hildegunn Kyvik Nordås Hildegunn Kyvik Nordås NUPI "Labour market effects of artificial intelligence" (video)
13:00 - 13:30 Christoph Lutz Christoph Lutz Norwegian Business School "Privacy issues in robotics" (video)
Session 2: Paper presentations
13:30 - 13:40 Tommaso Colombino, Shreepriya Shreepriya, Danilo Gallo Naver Labs Europe "Designing a robot platform for disabled employees: some practical ethical considerations" (video)
13:40 - 13:50 Júlia Pareto Boada Institut de Robòtica i Informàtica Industrial (CSIC-UPC) and Faculty of Philosophy (University of Barcelona) "Social robotics and the outsource of agency: untangling the ethical approach" (video)
13:50 - 14:00 Benjamin Krarup, Senka Krivic, Felix Lindner, Derek Long King's College London & Ulm University "Towards Contrastive Explanations for Comparing the Ethics of Plans" (video)
14:00 - 14:10 P. Michael Furlong KBR Inc. "Autonomy and Economic Pressures to Minimize Costs Conflicts with a Consumer Economy" (video)
14:10 - 14:30 Coffee break
Session 3: Ethics and methods for ethical robotics
14:30 - 15:00 Ludovic Righetti Ludovic Righetti University of New York "Dual use issues in robotics" (video)
15:00 - 15:30 AJung Moon AJung Moon McGill University "Ethical human-robot interaction" (video)
15:30 - 16:00 Tathagata Chakraborti Tathagata Chakraborti IBM "404. Expected plan not found." (video)
16:00 - 16:30 Coffee break
16:30 - 17:00 William Smart William Smart Oregon State University "Methods for privacy-aware robotics" (video)
17:00 - 17:30 Anca Dragan Anca Dragan University of California Berkeley "Value alignment in robotics" (video)
Session 4: Panel
17:30 - 18:30 Panel discussion (video)


  • Masoumeh (Iran) Mansouri (Corresponding organizer)

    Masoumeh (Iran) Mansouri (Corresponding organizer) www

    University of Birmingham, UK

  • Martim Brandao

    Martim Brandao www

    King's College London, UK

  • Martin Magnusson

    Martin Magnusson www

    Örebro University, Sweden


This space serves as a resource for related initiatives and readings. It is curated by the organizers and invited speakers.
Please feel free to send any of the organizers an email if you think something should be added to the lists below.

Related initiatives, workshops and conferences

- ICRA 2020 workshop "How will Autonomous Robots and Systems Influence Society? Debate from technological, philosophical, ethical, legal, and social implications perspectives"
- CHI 2020 workshop "Fair & Responsible AI"
- ICRA 2019 workshop "Bias-sensitizing robot behaviours: A quest for Avoiding Harmful Bias and Discrimination by robots (AGAINST-19)"
- IROS 2019 workshop "What's wrong with my robot? Unlearning biases in robot design"
- IJCAI 2019 Workshop on Explainable Artificial Intelligence (XAI)
- ICAPS 2019 Workshop on Explainable Planning (XAIP-2019)
- Web Conference 2019 workshop "Recoding Black Mirror"
- CVPR 2019 Workshop on Fairness Accountability Transparency and Ethics in Computer Vision
- ICAPS 2018 workshop "Explainable AI Planning (XAIP)
- Robophilosophy 2018
- ICRA 2014 workshop "Robotics and Military Applications: From Current Research and Deployments to Legal and Ethical Questions "
- ICRA 2011 workshop on Roboethics
- ICRA 2009 workshop on Roboethics
- ICRA 2007 workshop on Roboethics
- ACM Conference on Fairness Accoutability and Transparency (FAT*)
- ACM Conference on Artificial Intelligence, Ethics, and Society


This workshop is supported by:

IEEE RAS Technical Committee on Human-Robot Interaction & Coordination

ILIAD Project