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DIGZOOM: Charles Ess

Time Thursday 11 March, 2021 at 15:00 - 16:30
Place Zoom

DIGZOOM seminar with Charles Ess:

Should You Kick a Robot Dog? Research Ethics in Human-Machine Communication

Much of contemporary research ethics is grounded in and focused on Human Subjects protections, starting with norms of respect for persons (as autonomous beings), beneficence, and justice. Human-Machine Communication (HMC), however, attends to the complexities of interactions between Humans and Machines, such as AI systems and social robots. The initial view that "it's just a machine" suggests that these devices are owed no particular ethical duties or responsibilities, especially as these are classically grounded in human autonomy (well beyond the reach of current devices) and affiliated duties of respect and care. But as HMC research unfolds, in tandem with the ever growing sophistication and capacities of these devices, important ethical dilemmas are increasingly evoked, e.g., by emerging concerns with direct and indirect duties potentially owed such devices, and as complicated by ethics of care entailed by interactions with devices designed to read and respond to human emotions and affect. I will explore some of these issues by way of specific examples, including robot dogs and the further complications of research ethics when the human subjects are children and thus vulnerable and due more extensive protections.

Charles Ess
Charles Ess (PhD, Pennsylvania State University, USA) is Emeritus Professor in Media Studies, Department of Media and Communication, University of Oslo. He has received awards for teaching and scholarship. His research and publications emphasize cross-cultural and ethical perspectives in Internet Studies, and Information and Computing Ethics. His many books include Digital Media Ethics (Polity Press, 3rd edition in 2020). Ess has served as an ethics advisor for a number of research projects, such as: Responsible Ethical Learning with Robotics – REELER (H2020). Ess has held guest professorships in Norway, Germany, Denmark, and France, and is Emeritus Professor of Philosophy and Religion, Drury University (Springfield, Missouri, USA). Ess is a founding member of the International Association for Computing and Philosophy (IACAP); he has served as Vice-President and then President of the Association of Internet Researchers (AoIR), and as President (2012-2016) of the International Society for Ethics in Information Technology (INSEIT).

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Organizer: DIGSUM
Event type: Seminar