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Andrew and Kathleen Booth Memorial Lecture

Posted: Tuesday, 19 April 2022 13:00

We are delighted to announce that for 2022 we will be joined by Professor Marina Jirotka, Professor of Human Centred Computing in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Oxford. Marina will discuss responsible robotics and in particular the RoboTIPS fellowship, which is merging socio-legal and technical responses in its development of an ethical black box.

When: 9 June 2022, 18:00-19:30
Venue: Birkbeck Clore Management Centre

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The Andrew and Kathleen Booth Memorial Lecture is delivered annually by a distinguished computer scientist to commemorate the pioneering work of Professor Andrew Booth and Kathleen Booth (née Britten) at Birkbeck.

Lecture abstract

Responsible robotics: what could possibly go wrong?

Researchers and developers in the Digital Economy (DE) face significant uncertainties about where responsibilities lie for tackling harmful outcomes of technological innovation. There are controversies about who should, for example, monitor the actions of algorithms, or remedy unfairness and bias in machine learning. These questions of responsibility are often driven by economic considerations, but the issues run much deeper and are implicated in a wider reshaping of institutional, cultural and democratic responses to governing technology. How to divide responsibilities in the DE between developers, civic authorities, users of the technology and automated systems, represents a series of as yet unsolved problems. And, challenges remain over how to embed responsibility into the processes of technological design and development. Furthermore, as the pace of innovation continues to grow, the tension between profit and responsibility also grows stronger; users can feel increasingly ill at ease in the digital economy, with values of trust, identity, privacy and security potentially undermined.

In this lecture, Professor Jirotka will focus on the RoboTIPS fellowship which is merging socio-legal and technical responses in its development of an ethical black box (EBB). Black box ‘flight recorders’ are familiar from aviation and RoboTIPS is developing its EBB for use in social robots to provide data for use in the investigation of accidents and incidents. Crucially, it is not the data alone which is to be relied on in such investigations – the work draws on the important social aspects of investigation surrounding the data. This approach to new notions of responsibility that can emerge through novel configurations of technology, society and governance is being expanded throughout the newly launched Responsible Technology Institute (RTI) at Oxford. The RTI’s related projects take the socio-technical work further into the challenges of systems in changing environments. The RTI research draws on interdisciplinary understandings to establish new ways of considering ‘responsibility’ that can address the challenges outlined above.

Professor Marina Jirotka

Marina Jirotka is Professor of Human Centred Computing in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Oxford and Governing Body Fellow of St Cross College. She leads an interdisciplinary research group that combines both social and computer science approaches to the design of technology – the group researches methods and approaches for building and evaluating technology responsibly in ways that may enhance individual autonomy, wellbeing and promote and protect human values. Marina is an EPSRC Established Career Fellow conducting a five-year investigation into Developing Responsible Robotics for the Digital Economy. She is Director of the newly established Responsible Technology Institute at Oxford, and she is co-director of the Observatory for Responsible Research and Innovation in ICT (ORBIT) which provides RI services and training to ICT researchers and practitioners.

Events disclaimer

This event is subject to any restrictions in place with regard to the COVID-19 pandemic. If it is not possible to hold the event in person, then it will be moved online.

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