What will the next 50 years bring in robotics research?

Apr 24, 2007

Would a conscious robot need the same rights as a human being? Could robots one day take over the care of our ageing population? Will robots be our soldiers of the future? When will robots be able to do all the housework?

These are just some of the questions being tackled at the ‘Rights for Robots’ public debate taking place in London this evening.

The speakers are all experts from the ‘Walking with Robots’ network, which is funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.

The network brings together key researchers in intelligent robotics and leading science communicators. Their aim is highlight the ethical implications of robotics research.

A recent study commissioned by the UK Office of Science and Innovation's Horizon Scanning Centre entitled ‘Utopian dream or rise of the machines?’ looked at future developments in artificial intelligence over the next 20 to 50 years.

The Walking with Robots network is using this study as a starting point to explore the wide range of surrounding issues, including current technological limitations, conscious robots, robot licensing, and safety critical testing.

The speakers at the debate are Professor Owen Holland (University of Essex), Dr Tony Hirst (the Open University), Professor Murray Shanahan (Imperial College London) and Professor Alan Winfield (University of the West of England, Bristol) The discussion will be facilitated by Professor Noel Sharkey from the University of Sheffield.

"Robot technology is accelerating with applications in the home, in the workplace and in the military. It is hard to keep up and we are at a point where the public need to make some informed decisions about our future," says Professor Noel Sharkey.

"Some researchers believe that robots will have consciousness on a timescale of 50+ years while others believe this is a fairytale. The problem is that robots may be required to make decisions that could affect our lives much sooner. While some governments are beginning to draw up ethical guidelines, we need to initiate proper public consultation and informed public debate now."


Source: Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council

Explore further: Can science eliminate extreme poverty?

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Neuroscientist's idea wins new-toy award

Apr 15, 2014

When he was a child, Robijanto Soetedjo used to play with his electrically powered toys for a while and then, when he got bored, take them apart - much to the consternation of his parents.

The complexonaut

Apr 09, 2014

When he was in elementary school, Scott Aaronson, like many mathematically precocious kids of his generation, dreamed of making his own video games. He had only the foggiest notion of what that entailed, ...

The promise and peril of nanotechnology

Mar 26, 2014

Scientists at Northwestern University have found a way to detect metastatic breast cancer by arranging strands of DNA into spherical shapes and using them to cover a tiny particle of gold, creating a "nano-flare" ...

Recommended for you

Egypt archaeologists find ancient writer's tomb

Apr 19, 2014

Egypt's minister of antiquities says a team of Spanish archaeologists has discovered two tombs in the southern part of the country, one of them belonging to a writer and containing a trove of artifacts including reed pens ...

Study finds law dramatically curbing need for speed

Apr 18, 2014

Almost seven years have passed since Ontario's street-racing legislation hit the books and, according to one Western researcher, it has succeeded in putting the brakes on the number of convictions and, more importantly, injuries ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Egypt archaeologists find ancient writer's tomb

Egypt's minister of antiquities says a team of Spanish archaeologists has discovered two tombs in the southern part of the country, one of them belonging to a writer and containing a trove of artifacts including reed pens ...

Making graphene in your kitchen

Graphene has been touted as a wonder material—the world's thinnest substance, but super-strong. Now scientists say it is so easy to make you could produce some in your kitchen.