Robotics, AI and Humanity: Science, Ethics and Policy

von Braun, J., Archer, M.S., Reichberg, G.M., Sánchez Sorondo, M. (Eds.)
Springer Nature 2021 | Open Access
pp. 269 | ISBN: 978-3-030-54172-9

Artificial intelligence is at the heart of the epochal change we are experiencing. Robotics can make a better world possible if it is joined to the common good. Indeed, if technological progress increases inequalities, it is not true progress. Future advances should be oriented towards respecting the dignity of the person and of Creation. Let us pray that the progress of robotics and artificial intelligence may always serve humankind ... we could say, may it “be human”. 

Pope Francis, November Prayer Intention, 5 November 2020


This open access book examines recent advances in how artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics have elicited widespread debate over their benefits and drawbacks for humanity. The emergent technologies have for instance implications within medicine and health care, employment, transport, manufacturing, agriculture, and armed conflict. While there has been considerable attention devoted to robotics/AI applications in each of these domains, a fuller picture of their connections and the possible consequences for our shared humanity seems necessary. This volume covers multidisciplinary research, examines current research frontiers in AI/robotics and likely impacts on societal well-being, human – robot relationships, as well as the opportunities and risks for sustainable development and peace. The attendant ethical and religious dimensions of these technologies are addressed and implications for regulatory policies on the use and future development of AI/robotics technologies are elaborated.

The book draws on a joint seminar of the PAS and PASS Academies. 


Opening Statement

Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo | Bishop Chancellor of the Pontifical Academies of Sciences (PAS) and Social Sciences (PASS)

Introductory remarks

Joachim von Braun | PAS President

Introductory remarks

Stefano Zamagni | PASS President

1. Foundational Issues In AI and Robotics (Consciousness)

Could a robot be conscious? Lessons from philosophy

Markus Gabriel | Bonn University, Germany

2. The Science and Engineering of AI and Robots (robotics engineering, industries, internet of things and robot-robot and human-robot interactions)

Foundation of artificial intelligence and effective universal induction

Armin Cremers | B-IT Emeritus Research Group, Germany

3. AI/Robot – Human Interactions and Ethical Implications (robotics, cognitive science, and social theory)

Moral development in the digital environment

Antonio Battro | Academia Nacional de Educación, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Critical ingredients of autonomy, lessons from neuroscience

Wolf Singer | Max Planck Institute for Brain Research, Frankfurt, Germany

Human-robot interactions and affecting computing: the ethical implications

Laurence Devillers | Paris-Sorbonne, LIMSI-CNRS, France

What is it to implement human-robot joint action?

Aurélie Clodic | LAAS/CNRS, Toulouse, France

4. Robotics Changing the Future of Work, Farming, Poverty and Ecology (labour markets, and employment; impacts on the unskilled and poor, industry 4.0, opportunities and challenges for poverty reduction; precision farming; environment and ecology opportunities and risks)

AI/robotics implications for poverty and marginalization

Joachim von Braun | Director Centre for Development Research, Germany

Farming robots for precision agriculture

Ciryll Stachniss | University of Bonn, Germany

Robotics and AI for food security and innovation

Maximo Torero | Assistant Director General for Economics, FAO

AI and robots in workplaces

Arisa Ema | University of Tokyo and Visiting Researcher at RIKEN Center for Advanced Intelligence Project

5. Robotics and Services (education, the aged, health services/personalized medicine, mobility, homes...)

Explainability and plausibility as prerequisite for trusted AI

Christoph Peylo | Global Head of Bosch Center for Artificial Intelligence, Stuttgart, Germany

Regulating AI in the financial services industry

Frank Pasquale | University of Maryland, Baltimore, USA

Robotics in the classroom. Hopes or threats?

Pierre Léna | Université Paris-Diderot and Paris Observatory, France

Human-robot synergy and its emergent properties

Margaret Archer | Visiting Professor, Arctic University of Norway, Tromsø

6. Robotics, AI, and Militarized Conflict | Chair: Armin Cremers

Designing robots for the battlefield: state of the art

Bruce Swett | Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, Baltimore, USA

Military applications of AI and the relevance of virtue ethics

Gregory M. Reichberg and Henrik Syse | Peace Research Institute Oslo, Norway

The use of AI in cyber war: ethical and regulatory challenges

Sophie-Charlotte Fischer | Center for Security Studies, ETH Zurich, Switzerland

7. Society, Ethical, Religious, and Regulatory Dimensions of Robotics/AI (identifying dividing lines between robots and AI/human ‘enhancement’, ‘personhood’ and robots; ‘self-consciousness’, empathy, defining risks, and what should be prevented; altering of legislation and regulation, e.g. accountability, judicial and insurance issues, criminal responsibility, public and corporate governance)

Robots and rights

Wolfgang M. Schröder | Katholisch-Theologische Fakultät Würzburg, Germany

Responsible robotics

Aimee van Wynsberghe | Delft University of Technology, Netherlands

Impact of robotics on human relations

Pierpaolo Donati | Alma Mater Professor University of Bologna, Italy

Regulating AI: considerations that apply across domains

Angela Kane | Vienna Center for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation, Austria

AI regulation: finding a balance between efficiency and social effects

Stefano Quintarelli | Chair, Italian Digital Agency

Conclusions and discussion of workshop statement

Joachim von Braun, Stefano Zamagni, and Margaret Archer