Mensch - Roboter - Beziehungen
Austro-Canadian Roboethics Workshop

Dienstag, 04. Dezember 2018, 14.00 - 20.00 Uhr 
Claudiana, Claudiasaal, Herzog-Friedrich-Straße 3


Die Beziehungen zwischen Mensch und Maschine werden im Alltag immer enger: ‚Smart machines‘ passen ihr Verhalten ihrem Gegenüber an und treffen autonome Entscheidungen; Roboter übernehmen aktive Aufgaben in der Pflege oder werden sogar zu Gesprächspartnern und sozialen Gefährten. Sind diese Entwicklungen begrüßenswert? Findet eine Entmenschlichung unserer Lebenswelt statt? Wo soll die Autonomie von Maschinen enden? Wer trägt letztlich die Verantwortung?

Robots and Mankind

The relationships between human beings and machines are becoming closer in our lives: ‚Smart machines‘ adapt their behaviour to their human counterparts and they make autonomous decisions; robots assume certain tasks in nursing care or even become interlocutors and social companions. Is there a dehumanization of our world? Where should the autonomy of machines end?


14.00 Introduction and Opening Remarks

Claudia Paganini lehrt und forscht als Philosophin an der Leopold-Franzens-Universität und an der Medizinischen Universität Innsbruck. Neben der Medienethik, dem Bereich ihrer Habilitationsschrift, sind ihre Arbeitsschwerpunkte die Medizin- und Tierethik.
Claudia Paganini teaches and researches as a philosopher at the University of Innsbruck and the Medical University of Innsbruck. In addition to Media Ethics, the area of her habilitation thesis, her work focuses on Medical Ethics and Animal Ethics.

14.10 – 15.30 I want to live. Roboethics in western science fiction film

The desire to create a mechanical man is almost as old as humanity itself. What our society would look like if we had mechanical brothers and sisters has been tried out in literature many times before. Film in particular is an interesting medium for speculation.

Many academic works focus in the interaction between man and machine in film, but little was written about the ethical aspects and how they are represented in movies. What kind of agents are illustrated in films? Are they friends, slaves or just machines? Can they act autonomously and if yes, do they have rights and duties?
The talk, which is based on the results of my master’s thesis, raises the question of which ethical aspects of human-machine interaction are represented in Western science fiction films and how a connection between reality and fiction can be made.

Claudia Gerstl grew up in South Tyrol and after her graduation from high-school and a year working in theatre and film she studied at the AAU Klagenfurt. There she completed her Bachelor of Arts in Media and Communication Studies and Applied Cultural Studies. Following this, she moved to Innsbruck to complete her master's degree in media and focused her master thesis on the topic of robot ethics in film.

She is currently studying documentary film with a focus on editing and postproduction at the ZeLIG - School for Documentary Film, Television and New Media in Bolzano and is now working on her diploma film. 

14.10 – 15.30 Robots as Friends, Co-Workers, Slaves, and Learning Machines: Metaphorical Analyses and Ethical Considerations

From ancient music machines to Vaucanson’s automatic duck, and from Čapek’s play Rossum’s Universal Robots (RUR) to flexible acting autonomous robots, chatbots and molecular machines, metaphors play an important role throughout the history of human-machine interaction. Today, we find a manifold of metaphorical descriptions of robots ranging from slaves to friends, and from autonomous robots to learning machines. Along with the corresponding technological developments, urgent questions about accountability and responsibility emerge. How is increasing response-ability of robots related to issues of responsibility? What is the importance of meta phorical expressions in this context? Which new dimensions of digital divides and digital inclusion are we facing in view of recent developments?

The contribution starts (1) with an analysis of selected metaphorical descriptions of robots and human-robot relations, followed (2) by a discussion of their relevance for issues of accountability and responsibility. Finally (3), the contribution aims at reflecting ethical consequences for future-oriented ideas of responsible robotics.

Theo Hug is professor of educational sciences at the University of Innsbruck (Austria) and coordinator of the Innsbruck Media Studies research forum. His areas of interest include media education and philosophy of education, mobile learning and micro-learning, research methodology and theory of knowledge, medialization and philosophy of science. He is the author and/or editor of several books on various aspects of media, communication, and education, and together with Josef Mitterer he is literary executor of the Ernst von Glasersfeld archive (see Since 2015 he is member of the European Academy of Sciences and Arts (EASA).

Coffee Break

16.00 – 17.30 Alleviating Loneliness through Social Robotics - Pitfalls, Promises and Potential

The field of robotics is moving increasingly into non-industrial application areas that involve close physical interaction with people. One field is “social robotics”, which is characterized by the programming of robot movements and capabilities meant solely to communicate with people, not to perform traditional robotic tasks like welding and parts assembly. Telerobots, robot sports coaches and museum kiosk robots are examples, as are care robots, the topic of this session. Care robots fill roles such as conversation partner, companion, therapist, reminder, friend, confidant, and cuddler, to name a few. But what does this say about us as a species, outsourcing some traditionally very human roles to technology, for a highly vulnerable population, such as persons with dementia in care facilities? There are many stakeholders in this arena, and each has a primary concern: the person with dementia living away from family in a facility is very much alone, so loneliness is a major factor; the son or daughter can feel guilt at not being able to be with mom or dad often enough; the nurse feels angst at not being at bedside often enough to guarantee safety; the social worker wants to provide more activities to increase cognitive and social engagement; the administrator wants to provide quality healthcare but is confronted by a challenging budget and is mindful of client resources. 
All of these factors involve dealing with the primary factor of “loneliness”. So how can robots help? They are cheap, relatively. They are hypoallergenic and require no training, unlike pets. They can span multiple roles (sentry, conversationalist, companion). And yet … they are not people. Therein lies the ethical issue. Does an hour talking/cuddling with a robot equal an hour with a son or daughter for a person with dementia? How do they perceive the difference?  How do we as the other (for the time being) stakeholders perceive the difference? 
The talk will describe the field of social robotics, present several examples of current care robots and results of research studies (including videos). By the end, the goal will have been to provide more context, more specific information on the technology, means to assess the current state-of-the-art in research, and more awareness of ethical issues to permit more informed decision-making into the future.

H.F. Michael Van der Loos, Ph.D., P.Eng, is Associate Professor at the Department of Mechanical Engineering of the University of British Columbia (Canada). He is Director, CARIS Lab, which conducts cutting-edge experimental research to advance the science of Human-Robot Interaction (HRI).

16.00 – 17.30 On the Social and Ethical Acceptance of Human-Machine-Interaction

Social robots are increasingly tested in retirement homes, hospitals and care institutions. They are not only meant to support social interactions and communication with others but to become social and communication partners themselves. In a world where family bonds tend to be loosened and nursing staff is not available in sufficient numbers social robots appear to be the means of choice for substituting these failures of interpersonal contact. This development involves a number of questions: Does the use of such robots reduce our nature of social animals? Do we tend to de-humanize vulnerable individuals if a fair amount of their social contacts are robots instead of human persons of flesh and blood? Is there a relevant difference in the qualitative ‘feel’ between human-robot and human-human interaction? In my talk I will address these and related questions. I will argue that social robots are – if reasonably and moderately used – a good thing. They can  help to increase the number of social exchanges with fellow humans. They can make our interpersonal interactions more intense and meaningful. In short, they can foster our social nature and our humanness.

Georg Gasser, philosopher, teaches and researches in the field of philosophical anthropology, personal identity, medical ethics and philosophy of religion at Innsbruck University and the Medical University of Innsbruck.


18:30 - 19:00 Robotik in der Pflege - Maschinenmythos versus Handlungskompetenz

Welche Aspekte menschlichen Lebens und Arbeitens können und sollen „robotisiert“ werden? Kann und soll man genuin menschliche Tätigkeiten, wie beispielsweise die Pflege anderer Menschen, die Betreuung von Kindern oder die Therapierung von Menschen mit kognitiven oder psychischen Problemen an eine Maschine übertragen? Und welches sind solche genuin menschlichen Aufgaben? Diese Fragen werden in Bezug auf das der Robotertechnik zugrundeliegende Menschenbild, das Spannungsfeld von Autonomie und Kontrolle, und Prinzipien der Technikgestaltung erörtert.

Ina Wagner war Universitätsprofessorin für Multidisziplinäres Systemdesign und computerunterstütztes, kooperatives Arbeiten an der TU Wien. Kern ihrer Arbeit ist die Verbindung von ethnographischen Untersuchungen von Arbeitspraxis mit partizipativer Technikentwicklung. Sie war Mitglied der ‚European Group on Ethics in Science and New Technologies’ der Europäischen Kommission, seit 2001 Mitglied der Österreichischen Bioethikkommission.

19:00 - 20:00 Podiumsdiskussion mit Mike van der Loos, Patrick Schuchter, Ina Wagner

Veranstalter: Institut für christliche Philosophie in Kooperation mit WuV und Zentrum für Kanadastudien

Es können auch nur einzelne Programmpunkte besucht werden!

Der Vortrag Robotik in der Pflege und die anschließende Diskussion finden in deutscher Sprache statt.

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