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: Physicist creates ice cream that changes colors as it's licked

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Tidal forces gave moon its shape, according to new analysis

1 hour ago

The shape of the moon deviates from a simple sphere in ways that scientists have struggled to explain. A new study by researchers at UC Santa Cruz shows that most of the moon's overall shape can be explained by taking into ...

Mapping the optimal route between two quantum states

1 hour ago

As a quantum state collapses from a quantum superposition to a classical state or a different superposition, it will follow a path known as a quantum trajectory. For each start and end state there is an optimal ...

US spy agency patents car seat for kids

2 hours ago

Electronic eavesdropping is the National Security Agency's forte, but it seems it also has a special interest in children's car seats, Foreign Policy magazine reported Wednesday.

Recommended for you

F1000Research brings static research figures to life

9 hours ago

F1000Research today published new research from Bjorn Brembs, professor of neurogenetics at the Institute of Zoology, Universitaet Regensburg, in Germany, with a proof-of-concept figure allowing readers and reviewers to run ...

How science can beat the flawed metric that rules it

11 hours ago

In order to improve something, we need to be able to measure its quality. This is true in public policy, in commercial industries, and also in science. Like other fields, science has a growing need for quantitative ...

User comments : 0