The mission of the Foundation for Responsible Robotics is to shape a future of responsible robotics design, development, use, regulation, and implementation. We see both the definition of responsible robotics and the means of achieving it as ongoing tasks that will evolve alongside the technology.
What is responsible robotics?
This answer changes as quickly as the technology in question. Robots are tools with no moral intelligence, which means it’s up to us – the humans behind the robots – to be accountable for the ethical developments that necessarily come with technological innovation. Addressing ethical issues in robotics means proactively taking stock of the impact these innovations will have on societal values like safety, security, privacy, and well-being, rather than trying to contain the effects of robots after their introduction into society. We view responsible robotics as a whole being held up by three central pillars:
Research and Development
Responsible robotics starts before the robot has been constructed. Ethical decisionmaking begins in the R&D phase. This includes the kind of research practices that are employed; ensuring that a diverse set of viewpoints are represented in the development of the technology; using methods of development and production that are sustainable; and taking into consideration the impact that the technology will have on all stakeholders to mitigate harm preemptively rather than after the fact.
The ethical use of robotics is not solely the responsibility of the producers of the technology – but for consumers to make informed decisions regarding products they use and how they use them, information about what responsible consumption in the sector looks like has to be readily available. This requires transparency from industry and ensuring ease of access to important information that may affect buyers’ decisions.
Law and Policy
Responsible regulation of robots is the final pillar in making use of rapidly advancing technology in an ethical manner. Effective regulation is not aimed at restricting the use of robots, but ensuring that the way they are implemented in society is done with due regard to human rights and does not create or amplify social injustice. It also means facilitating the ethical use of technology through proactive and cross-sector policy, rather than attempting to impose regulations after the technology has been released and put to use.
Commitment to Diversity
The FRR is dedicated to pushing for equality in the field of robotics, as well as STEM fields as a whole – from education to the professional level. We demonstrate this commitment through our own executive board, of which over half the members are women; our events, where we strive for a minimum of 50% women presenters and/or panelists; and our initiatives, such as the letter in support of diversity that we sent to the U.K. Parliament.
What We Do
Engage with policymakers at both the national and international level to advocate the creation of policies that consider potential societal risks of forthcoming robotics applications
Organize and host events such as workshops that bring together stakeholders from multiple disciplines to increase awareness of ethical, legal, and societal issues in robotics, as well as develop best practices for addressing these issues
Publish consultation documents to educate and inform the general public as well as policymakers in a clear, objective fashion
Create public-private collaborations to bridge the gap between industry and consumers and allow for greater transparency