2020-05-31 – AGAINST-20: Against robot dystopias: Thinking through the ethical, legal and societal issues of robotics and automation

Online workshop at ICRA 2020 on June 4th, 2020.

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.

The workshop builds on its previous edition AGAINST-19 at ICRA 2019, which focused on bias and discrimination. This edition will further extend its scope to other topics of ethics and responsible innovation in robotics, while at the same time keeping its focus on spreading awareness and a critical mindset in our robotics community regarding ethical issues of the technologies we design.


  • Ethical principles for AI and robotics — Vincent Müller
  • Transparency issues in robotics — Alan Winfield
  • Methods for transparent AI — Andreas Theodorou
  • Methods for explainable robotics — Daniele Magazzeni
  • Methods for value alignment and legibility in robotics — Anca Dracan
  • Privacy issues in robotics — Christoph Lutz
  • Discrimination issues in robotics — Hin-Yan Liu
  • Dual use issues in robotics — Ludovic Righetti
  • Methods for privacy-aware robotics — William Smart
  • Methods for ethical human-robot interaction — AJung Moon
  • Masculinity and autonomous vehicles — Dag Balkmar
  • Labour market effects of artificial intelligence — Hildegunn Kyvik Nordås