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Fall Distinguished Lecture with Prof. Jeroen Van Den Hoven: Responsible Innovation in the Age of Robots and Smart Machines


Many of the things we do to each other in the 21st century –both good and bad – we do by means of smart technology. Drones, robots, cars, and computers are a case in point. Military drones can help protect vulnerable, displaced civilians; at the same time, drones that do so without clear accountability give rise to serious moral questions when unintended deaths and harms occur. More generally, the social benefits of our smart machines are manifold; the potential drawbacks and moral quandaries extremely challenging. In this talk, I take up the question of responsible innovation drawing on the European Union experience and reconsidering the relations between ethics and design. I shall introduce ‘Value Sensitive Design’, one the most promising approaches, and provide illustrations from robotics, AI and drone technology to show how moral values can be used as requirements in technical design. By doing so we may overcome problems of moral overload and conflicting values by design.