TAROS 2018 Speakers

Keynote Speakers

Professor Alan Winfield

Title: The Ethical Roboticist.

Alan Winfield


In the last 10 years machine ethics has changed from a niche concern of a small group of academics to a subject of intense societal, political and media interest, with multiple initiatives since 2016, notably from the US White House, EU and UK parliaments, and the Japanese Government. An informal survey reveals that at least 10 sets of ethical principles for robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) have been proposed to date, 7 of which were published in 2017.

What has driven this explosion of interest in machine ethics? The recent high profile successes of Deep Learning have no doubt played a key role, exemplified by the dramatic success of DeepMind’s AlfaGo AI in defeating the world’s best Go player in 2016. Advances in AI alongside real-world trials of driverless cars – and a good deal of media hype – are driving significant investment in AI and robotics companies while also raising public and political concerns over the societal and economic implications of a fourth industrial revolution.

I am often asked the question: what does professor of robot ethics do? In this talk I will outline my work in both robotics and AI ethics, and in ethical robots. Robot and AI ethics is concerned with the human problem of the ethical design and application of robots and robotic systems, whereas ethical robots describes the technical problem of how to design robots and AIs that are capable of choosing actions on the basis of ethical considerations. That we need the former is incontrovertible, while the latter remains a subject of intense debate.

Short biography:

Alan Winfield is Professor of Robot Ethics at the University of the West of England (UWE), Bristol, UK, and Visiting Professor at the University of York. He received his PhD in Digital Communications from the University of Hull in 1984, then co-founded and led APD Communications Ltd until taking-up appointment at UWE, Bristol in 1992. Alan co-founded the Bristol Robotics Laboratory where his research is focussed on the science and engineering of cognitive robotics; current projects are focussed on robots with simulation-based internal models and multi-robot systems in critical environments.

Alan is passionate about communicating research and ideas in science, engineering and technology; he led UK-wide public engagement project Walking with Robots, awarded the 2010 Royal Academy of Engineering Rooke medal for public promotion of engineering. Until recently he was director of UWE’s Science Communication Unit. Alan is frequently called upon by the press and media to comment on developments in AI and robotics; he was a guest on the BBC R4 series The Life Scientific and more recently interviewed for BBC News HARDtalk.

Alan is an advocate for robot ethics; he sits on the executive of the IEEE Standards Association Global Initiative on Ethics of Autonomous and Intelligent Systems. He is a member of the Ethics Advisory Board for the EU flagship Human Brain Project, and sits on the WEF Global Futures Council on Future Technology Values and Policy. Alan has published over 220 works, including Robotics: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford University Press, 2012); he lectures widely on robotics, presenting to both academic and public audiences, and blogs at http://alanwinfield.blogspot.com/

Silas Adekunle

Title: From crazy robot ideas to a real business

Silas Adekunle

Short biography

Silas Adekunle is the co-founder and CEO of Reach Robotics, the company creating the future of entertainment by fusing robotics, augmented reality and video games. Born in Nigeria and raised in both his birthplace and Britain, Adekunle is channelling his lifelong passion for biology, video games and robotics into a first-of-its-kind experience. Under his guidance, Reach Robotics recently launched its inaugural product, MekaMon, a competitive entertainment platform that combines advanced robots with videogames via augmented reality gameplay, controlled by smartphone.

Adekunle graduated with First Class Honours from the University of the West of England earning a Bachelor of Science in robotics technology and previously worked at GE Aviation and Infineon.

Professor Kerstin Dautenhahn

Title: Social robots with social impact? - The case of robot-assisted therapy for children with autism

Kerstin Dautenhahn


Robots have a huge potential in areas such as healthcare, therapy and rehabilitation. For the past 20 years I have been working on using robots as assistive tools/toys for children with autism. Children with autism, like many other children, are very attracted to robots, and we use this attraction to create scenarios that engage the children in therapeutically or educationally beneficial interaction. The key approach of my research team is to place the robot as a social mediator - mediating between interactions of a children with autism and other people. While humans may generally be the best teachers for communication and social skills, for children with autism a robot can provide a stepping stone, starting with simplified and predictable behaviour that can be made increasingly more complex. My talk will outline some research that we have been doing with different types of robots, including our humanoid robot Kaspar. As part of a European project (Babyrobot) we are working towards a semi-autonomous version of Kaspar - taking away some of the cognitive load of the adult (teacher/parent) who is present, while still keeping him/her in the loop of interactions with the child in order to provide meaningful human context of interaction and communication.

Short biography:

Kerstin Dautenhahn, Senior Member IEEE, is Professor of Artificial Intelligence in the School of Computer Science at University of Hertfordshire in U.K. where she coordinates the Adaptive Systems Research Group. She has published more than 300 research articles. Prof. Dautenhahn has edited several books and frequently gives invited keynote lectures. She has been Principal Investigator of her research team in several European, nationally and internationally funded projects. Prof. Dautenhahn is Founding Editor in Chief of the journal Interaction Studies: Social Behaviour and Communication in Biological and Artificial Systems, as well as Associate Editor of Adaptive Behaviour (Sage Publications), the International Journal of Social Robotics (Springer), IEEE Transactions on Affective Computing and the IEEE Transactions on Cognitive and Developmental Systems.

IET Public lecture

Professor Brian Scassellati

Title: Robots that Teach

Brian Scassellati


Robots have long been used to provide assistance to individual users through physical interaction, typically by supporting direct physical rehabilitation or by providing a service such as retrieving items or cleaning floors. Socially assistive robotics (SAR) is a comparatively new field of robotics that focuses on developing robots capable of assisting users through social rather than physical interaction. Just as a good coach or teacher can provide motivation, guidance, and support without making physical contact with a student, socially assistive robots attempt to provide the appropriate emotional, cognitive, and social cues to encourage development, learning, or therapy for an individual.

In this talk, I will review some of the reasons why physical robots rather than virtual agents are essential to this effort, highlight some of the major research issues within this area, and describe some of our recent results deploying robots into clinics, classrooms, and homes. We have used robots to teach primary-school children topics as diverse as nutrition, mathematics, and how to deal with bullies. Most recently, we have deployed robots into homes to provide daily social skills therapy to children with autism spectrum disorder, resulting in the first clinician-validated social skills improvements that both generalize to interactions without the robot and that persist a month after the robot has been removed from the home.

Short biography:

Brian Scassellati is a Professor of Computer Science, Cognitive Science, and Mechanical Engineering at Yale University and Director of the NSF Expedition on Socially Assistive Robotics. Dr. Scassellati received his Ph.D. in Computer Science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2001. His dissertation work (Foundations for a Theory of Mind for a Humanoid Robot) with Rodney Brooks used models drawn from developmental psychology to build a primitive system for allowing robots to understand people. His work at MIT focused mainly on two well-known humanoid robots named Cog and Kismet. He also holds a Master of Engineering in Computer Science and Electrical Engineering (1995), and Bachelor degrees in Computer Science and Electrical Engineering (1995) and Brain and Cognitive Science (1995), all from MIT.


Organising Committee

Page last updated 17 April 2018