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: Russia turns back clocks to permanent Winter Time

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

What goes up must come down

Oct 14, 2014

Found in warm regions of the world, geckos are extremely capable of climbing up steep, smooth surfaces. To do so, they employ an adhesive system – a key evolutionary innovation that facilitates climbing ...

Will Americans accept self-driving cars?

Oct 08, 2014

Just before the turn of the 20th century, a new and frightening technology was introduced to the American public. These "horseless carriages"—as the first motorized vehicles were called—were deemed loud, ...

Teaching computers the nuances of human conversation

Sep 12, 2014

Computer scientists have successfully developed programs to recognize spoken language, as in automated phone systems that respond to voice prompts and voice-activated assistants like Apple's Siri.

Recommended for you

Russia turns back clocks to permanent Winter Time

15 hours ago

Russia on Sunday is set to turn back its clocks to winter time permanently in a move backed by President Vladimir Putin, reversing a three-year experiment with non-stop summer time that proved highly unpopular.

Cloning whistle-blower: little change in S. Korea

Oct 24, 2014

The whistle-blower who exposed breakthrough cloning research as a devastating fake says South Korea is still dominated by the values that allowed science fraudster Hwang Woo-suk to become an almost untouchable ...

Color and texture matter most when it comes to tomatoes

Oct 21, 2014

A new study in the Journal of Food Science, published by the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT), evaluated consumers' choice in fresh tomato selection and revealed which characteristics make the red fruit most appealing.

User comments : 0