Call: The Emerging Policy and Ethics of Human Robot Interaction – HRI 2015 Workshop

Final Call for Papers: The Emerging Policy and Ethics of Human Robot Interaction
Mar 2, 2015 • Portland, Oregon • Workshop @ HRI 2015


Submission deadline: 2 Feb 2015

As robotics technology forays into our daily lives, research, industry, and government professionals in the field of human-robot interaction (HRI) in must grapple with significant ethical, legal, and normative questions. Many leaders in the field have suggested that “the time is now” to start drafting ethical and policy guidelines for our community to guide us forward into this new era of robots in human social environments. However, thus far, discussions have been skewed toward the technology side or policy side, with few opportunities for cross-disciplinary conversation, creating problems for the community. Policy researchers can be concerned about robot capabilities that are scientifically unlikely to ever come to fruition (like the singularity), and technologists can be vehemently opposed to ethics and policy encroaching on their professional space, concerned it will impede their work.

This workshop aims to build a cross-disciplinary bridge that will ensure mutual education and grounding. It has three main goals: 1) Cultivate a multidisciplinary network of scholars who might not otherwise have the opportunity to meet and collaborate, 2) Serve as a forum for guided discussion of relevant topics that have emerged as pressing ethical and policy issues in the HRI field, 3) Create a working consensus document for the professional community that will be shared broadly.

The workshop will explore three challenge themes: Healthcare (e.g., how do we ethically design and deploy robots that work with people with disabilities and older adults?), Morphology (e.g., what are the ethics inherent in “social manipulation” through design?), and Autonomy (e.g., what are the ethical and legal ramifications of control handoff?).


A multi-disciplinary group of scholars, as well as users of heath robotics technology will serve on panels across each of the challenge themes. Panelists include:

  • Meg Leta Ambrose, Communication, Culture, & Technology, Georgetown University
  • Kenneth Anderson, College of Law, American University
  • Peter Asaro, Media Studies, The New School
  • Jodi Forlizzi, Human Computer Interaction Institute, Carnegie Mellon
  • Michael Goodrich, Computer Science, Brigham Young University
  • Guy Hoffman, Communication, IDC Herzliya
  • David Luxton, Naval Health Research Center and Univ. of Washington School of Medicine
  • Jason Millar, Philosophy, Queen’s University at Kingston
  • Ayse Saygin, Cognitive Science, University of California San Diego
  • Jean Scholtz, Visual Analytics, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
  • Bill Smart, Mechanical Engineering, Oregon State University
  • John Sullins, Philosophy, Sonoma State University
  • Aimee van Wynsberghe, Philosophy, University of Twente
  • Eric Valor, Team Gleason Initiative and SciOpen Research Group


We welcome multi-disciplinary participation from all who are interested in exploring this area. Suggested topics might include, but are not limited to:

  • Design, experimental, and/or ethical guidelines for professionals in the HRI community
  • Inclusive robot design – for both the robots themselves and their users
  • Patient rights and responsibilities in robot-assisted healthcare
  • Preservation of privacy and dignity for users of assistive robots
  • Shared autonomy and control handoffs in an ethical and policy context
  • Appropriate use of wizard-of-oz
  • Data collection and privacy
  • Social impact of human worker displacement in the service sector
  • Legal liability issues in robotic design, manufacture, and use
  • Liability laws for human-robot teams
  • The role of regulatory agencies (FDA, FTC, etc)


Authors are invited to submit questions, thought experiments, position papers, or ethical stories from their own HRI practice. All submissions should be situated within the context of humans and robots working together collaboratively. Please note, for this workshop we are more focused on helping guide HRI practice and policy, as opposed to programming ethics into robots.

Papers should be 2 pages long and follow the HRI 2015 publication guidelines. For more information about the format, see the workshop’s website:


Deadline for paper submission: 2 Feb 2015
Notification of acceptance: 9 Feb 2015
Workshop: 2 Mar 2015


In addition to posting accepted submissions to the workshop website, content will be live-tweeted by the Open Roboethics Initiative during the workshop. We also will be publishing a working consensus document for our community on the workshop website as well as on Robohub.


We are pleased to announce we will be able to provide several student scholarships to support travel to Portland, workshop registration, and some lodging costs. See website for details.


Laurel Riek, Computer Science and Engineering, University of Notre Dame
Woodrow Hartzog, Cumberland School of Law, Samford University
Don Howard, Philosophy, University of Notre Dame
Ajung Moon, Mechanical Engineering, University of British Columbia
Ryan Calo, School of Law, University of Washington

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