K4I – Robotics in Europe – Opportunities and Challenges




We live in an exciting time where robots are rapidly being introduced into human society. If we, for simplicity, consider a robot as being a computer with actuators, able to act on the environment and learn from its previous actions, many robots are dreamed of to perform a wide range of useful tasks in society. Well-known examples include (semi) autonomous cars, artificially intelligent companions to elderly and young children, and competitors in various games. Both events, the lunch and parallel session will bring together expertise in the areas of robotics engineering, artificial intelligence, social and cognitive robotics, neurobiology and robe-ethics.

There are some concerns and many opportunities. We need to focus on both.

But first of all – we need to demistify the problem of robots.

There are many threats raised by the people, the media- that workers will loose the job on the massive scale, that robots will replace many our activities, that we will loose the control over robots, that there is no clear, who should be responsible for robots’ activities, also incidents: who should take the liability ?

There is a part of truth in those opinions, but generally speaking – it is not true.

We do not exactly know – how it will be. For example: the foresight of labour market situation related to the robots to 2019 ( three years ) in some analysis shows – that robots will start the work in just about 400/ 500 thousands workplaces. It is the huge number – and we need to be prepared. But – there is 224 million people working in the EU, so this potential replacement should be seen in the realistic perspective and with proper conclusions.

What is important ? To consider: how the robots can be useful in many areas and what is needed to implement this solution.

There are many new challenges and possibilities : in manufacturing, in the Internet of Things issues, in the eHealth solutions, in the care area, in the security field, in the research, at the area of those famous autonomous cars etc. etc. Our life will be easier, more convenient, more complemented by the works and activities done by the robots.

Starting with this new phenomenon, we should express clearly the expected and needed conditions:

The general ethical principles should be fulfilled from the very begining, which means ethical rules by default implemented by designers and constructors….

The model of cooperation between robots and humans, in which there is a guarantee that finally – the human factor exists, which means the controlling tools for humans over robots. It is not easy, when we look at the opportunities brought by the fully learning machines, used algorithms not to solve the known problems, but to solve the completely unknown, unpredictable problems. What kind of checks and balances instruments could be needed…..

But, on the other hand – the liability problem should be solved, after precise analysis of possible situations…..

The full respect to the fundamental rights, especially to the GDPR, to personal data protection – it is key for relations between robots and humans, when the robots are starting communication and cooperation, and also can process the personal data.

The full respect for the clear rules important for relations between robots and volulnerable groups – children, elderly people, disabled – to avoid the negative dependence of those kind of persons on robots.

The new framework for communication between robots and humans – transversal, with using the developed voice recognition facilitators.

The new frame and the model of schemes: how the worker and robots could co-work, communicate, cooperate. It is important to prepare people for cooperation with robots – it requires skills, principles, codes of conduct, trainings etc.

The cautious – with starting at that area with strong regulatory framework. We need to use existed law and rules, we need to be open for codes of conduct rather, soft law solutions than strong regulations.