The invention of the Internet and the irruption of mobile phones has led to the emergence of social networks, a phenomenon difficult to predict only a few decades ago. Nor was it that robots left the strictly working environment, passing on to the so-called social robots, which we will increasingly see assisting people with disabilities, working as receptionists or shop assistants in shopping centres, as guides in conventions and museums, and also as nannies or teachers.
The growing interaction with machines is changing not only the way we work, but also how we think and feel, as well as our affective relationships. Bearing in mind that we are shaped by the technology we design, it is essential to establish ethical criteria and foster a critical spirit.
In this sense, in the inaugural conference of the academic year 2019-2020, entitled 'Robotic assistants: research, ethics and science fiction', Carme Torras will present, plainly, the current state of research in robotics and artificial intelligence, as well as the social and ethical implications of new technologies.
About Carme Torras
Carme Torras has a degree in mathematics, a doctorate in computer science and is research professor at the Institute of Robotics and Industrial Informatics (CSIC-UPC), where she leads a team dedicated to welfare and collaborative robotics. She has directed sixteen European projects, including an ERC Advanced Grant on robotic handling of clothing. She has been awarded the Narcís Monturiol medal by the Generalitat de Catalunya and recently recognised as Catalan ICT Professional of the Year.
Convinced that science fiction can help promote ethics in robotics and new technologies, she has written the novels 'La mutació sentimental' (Pagès Editors, 2008) and Enxarxats (Males Herbes, 2017). The first was translated into English under the title 'The Vestigial Heart' (MIT Press, 2018) and published along with materials to teach a course on Ethics in Robotics and Artificial Intelligence, which have also been adapted as a didactic guide for secondary and high school students (Pagès Editors, 2018).