Human Responsibility in a World of Robots

Noel Sharkey, Emeritus Professor AI and Robotics, University of Sheffield, and Co-Director of the Foundation for Responsible Robotics

 The robot revolution is well underway with new applications in industry and defence emerging rapidly. Now robots are moving out of the factories and into our daily lives.  In 2014 over 4.7 million robots were sold for personal domestic use.  By 2018 it is predicted conservatively that there will be over 38 million in our daily lives and taking over very many human jobs. But, are we rushing into the robot revolution too fast? While there are lots of good uses for robots out there, how can we keep the bad uses at bay?  Noel will consider the societal and ethical risks presented by increasing numbers of robots and how we might control their development to create and maintain public trust.

  • Everything to play for – new areas of advantage from the latest robotics developments in industry and the home
  • Creating a monster? Why we must think hard and act now to ensure that robots are beneficial to society.
  • Social science – why creators of robots have to think about society as well as science
  • We need a game plan – why scientists, industry and legislators must collaborate to create a workable regulatory framework that doesn’t stifle innovation
  • Responsible robotics – winning public trust and ensuring the robotics industry’s commercial future


Noel is best known to the British public as head judge on BBCs TV’s Robot Wars and Tech expert on Techno Games. After decades of research in AI, psychology, robotics and machine learning, he now spends most of his time researching the ethical, legal and human rights issues involved in the use of robots in areas including the military, elderly and child care, policing, transport, crime, medicine, border control, civil surveillance and sex. In addition to his roles at Sheffield University and with the Foundation for Responsible Robotics, he is chair elect of the NGO the International Committee for Robot Arms Control (ICRAC) and has held research and teaching roles at Yale, Stanford, Essex, Exeter and Sheffield.