University of Luxembourg spin-off LuxAI has been featured in an article in German media Deutschlandfunk as part of a wider feature on the future of robots designed for interactions with humans, and the remaining need for a comprehensive legal framework.
Interpretations of how humans and robots will coexist in the future, has been the subject of many science fiction films. A recently published article in Deutschlandfunk points out that when it comes to real everyday life, there are still gaps in the legal framework when it comes to rights and ethics in relation to robots.
The article highlights the European SPARC programme – for which the EU has set aside 700 MEUR to invest in robots until 2020 – is the biggest funding programme for robots in the world. It is also expected that private companies will invest three times the amount invested by the EU.
Despite the great investment in robotic research and development, a comprehensive legal framework for robotics is yet to be developed by the EU. The EU Parliament has stressed the need for such a framework, in particular regarding ethical principles, in order for the EU to stay competitive in robotics.
The article points out the reason a legal framework – especially regarding ethics – is needed so urgently: Artificial Intelligence (AI) is developing at rapid speed, and with it the ‘independence’ of the robots.
Affective Computing is used for social robots. This type of robot is for example used in hotels for some communication with guests, but increasingly they are also used in more sensitive areas, such as care and health. The article then brings in Pouyan Ziafati, co-founder of University of Luxembourg spin-off LuxAI, who gives an overview of LuxAI’s socially assistive robots QT:
“QT is a social robotics platform and has several application possibilities. The University of Luxembourg uses QT in the framework of emotional ability training for children with autism. QT explains to the children why people have different emotions, how to recognise them – in themselves and others – and how they can be controlled.” – Pouyan Ziafati
The article mentions recent studies that have in fact shown that some children with autism find it easier to communicate when using a social robot as a ‘bridge’, but points out that ethical restrictions are also needed here.
Read the full article here: Die Maschinen werden autonom, Deutschlandfunk, published 10 May 2017 (German only – article also features Leon van der Torre, IT Professor at the University of Luxembourg)
You can also read Rise of the robots: Mady Delvaux on why their use should be regulated (February 2017)