19-20 September 2017
Lecture and seminar with
Michael Decker and Klaus Wiegerling
KIT-ITAS Karlsruhe
Less

Michael Decker: Interdisciplinary Technology Assessment of autonomous robots
September 19, 2017

Klaus Wiegerling: Intelligente Maschinen, die für uns denken, handeln und entscheiden. Was bedeutet das für uns?
September 19, 2017

 

Seminar with Michael Decker and Klaus Wiegerling: Participation and societal decision making
September 20, 2017

 

Michael Decker: Interdisciplinary Technology Assessment of autonomous robots

Robots are one of the rare technical systems that have already been comprehensively described and discussed in terms of their possible construction and effects before actually being built. However, considering the development in the last decades, namely that much more microprocessors are used as so-called microcontrollers for other purposes than for computers (e.g. in cars, aeroplanes, houses, machine controls, satellites, mobile phones, washing machines, gaming machines, cameras, etc.), one can speak of an automation of the human environment. This development involves increased efficiency, “miniaturisation” and wide availability in other areas: motors, drives, batteries, materials, sensors, etc.

These developments in robotics research allow the use of robots in application areas that have not yet been technicised. Here, robots will act in contexts in which, so far, only humans have acted. In these action contexts, humans will be replaced by robots. Reference to concrete contexts is of special importance, because presently, the general replacement of humans by robots is not intended, but cooperation is the paradigm. The issue of replaceability of humans by robots can be tackled from different disciplinary perspectives:

First, there is the issue of technical replaceability. A robot will only be used if it is technically capable of performing actions that are required to fulfil a specific task. A robot will always be technically evaluated in a means-end relation, where it competes with possibly other existing means that can be used for a specific end. The technical criteria for the use of robots are derived from this means-end relation. In a next step, the question arises whether it is possible to generalise these criteria and thus to identify larger application areas in which human actions can be replaced by technology or not.

Such means-end considerations quickly reach a point where it is necessary to assess the benefits of robots (economic replaceability). This implies not only strict cost-benefit considerations in economic terms where aspects of a broader definition of benefits are often not considered. This becomes obvious when evaluating so-called “service robots”, because service is always associated with aspects such as friendliness, helpfulness, attentiveness, politeness. What arguments can be put forward for the right of the demand-side to these additional service aspects?

The position of the demand-side – the customers – has to be discussed also from another perspective. For example, it is necessary to examine whether the introduction of robots as actors leads to changes from the legal point of view (legal replaceability). Liability issues are of course of great importance, too. Who is liable for damage caused by a robot? On the other hand, there are questions of consumer protection. Because in future scenarios of robotics also laypersons will encounter robots. Do robots require special equipment for these “unexpected” encounters? And, in turn, is it necessary to prepare people for the possibility of such encounters? Are there any additional aspects to be considered for “learning” robots?

Finally, the question must be addressed as to whether there are action contexts in which the integration of robots should be excluded by modern societies. This might apply for example to the care of old and ill people, the education of children, or similar action contexts. The question of the areas in which autonomous robots should replace humans is strongly determined by the issue of the ethical replaceability.

This presentation introduces interdisciplinary Technology Assessment referring to the case of autonomous robot systems. The areas of application are amongst others are self driving cars and assistive technologies for people with dementia.

Michael Decker
KIT-ITAS Karlsruhe

Studies in physics (minor subject economics) at Heidelberg University, German university degree “Diplom” in physics 1992; graduation 1995, doctor’s degree in natural sciences at Heidelberg University (spectroscopy of oxygen in the high pressure combustion); habilitation at the University of Freiburg (interdisciplinary research for technology assessment) in 2006. Member of scientific staff at the Europäische Akademie zur Erforschung von Folgen wissenschaftlich-technischer Entwicklungen Bad Neuenahr-Ahrweiler GmbH (1997-2002). Member of scientific staff at ITAS (2003-2004). Deputy head of institute (2004-2014). Head of institute (2014-2015). Fields of work: concepts of Technology Assessment, methodology of interdisciplinary research, Technology Assesment of Robotics and Nanotechnology.

 

Klaus Wiegerling: Intelligente Maschinen, die für uns denken, handeln und entscheiden. Was bedeutet das für uns?

Der Vortrag versucht zu zeigen, dass intelligente Maschinen derzeit und wohl, solange diese Maschinen Werkzeuge sind, auch auf Dauer, in einem strengen Sinne weder denken, noch handeln, noch entscheiden. Ersteres tun sie nicht, weil sie keine Fähigkeit zur Transzendierung von Situationen haben, es sei denn eine solche ist innerhalb einer Metarahmung explizit vorgeschrieben. Sie handeln nicht, weil sie keine Folgenverantwortlichkeit und keine Zwecksetzungskompetenz haben. Sie entscheiden nicht, weil sie rechnen, also im eigentlichen Sinne nicht wählen. Gleichwohl sind Denken, Handeln und Entscheiden verbreitete anthropomorphe Zuschreibungen, die Auswirkungen auf unser Selbst- und Gesellschaftsverständnis haben. In diesen Zuschreibungen artikulieren sich Ideologien bzw. eine Metaphysik im Sinne unartikulierter Implikationen. Unter anderem kommt es zu Verantwortungsverschiebungen, die verschleiern, dass es Menschen mit speziellen Interessen und Weltsichten sind, die für die Einrichtung und den Einsatz intelligenter Maschinen Verantwortung tragen.

 

Klaus Wiegerling
Studium der Philosophie, Komparatistik und Deutsche Volkskunde an der Johannes-Gutenberg-Universität Mainz. Promotion 1983 „Husserls Begriff der Potentialität. Eine Untersuchung über Sinn und Grenze der transzendentalen Phänomenologie als universaler Methode”. Habilitation im Fach Philosophie 2001 im Fachbereich Wirtschafts- und Sozialwissenschaften an der TU Kaiserslautern (Medienethik). 2009 außerplanmäßiger Professor an der TU Kaiserslautern (FB Philosophie). 2002-2010 wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter beim SFB-Projekt Nexus der Universität Stuttgart (Institut für Technikphilosophie und Wissenschaftstheorie, SFB 627 Nexus – Umgebungsmodelle für mobile kontextbezogene Systeme). 2011-2012 wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter am Institut für Philosophie der Universität Stuttgart (Lehre). Seit 2013 wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter am Institut für Technikfolgenabschätzung und Systemanalyse (ITAS). Forschungsschwerpunkte: Philosophie des 20. und 21. Jahrhunderts, Kulturphilosophie, Medienphilosophie und Medienethik, Technikphilosophie, Phänomenologie und Symbolphilosophie.

 

Seminar with Michael Decker and Klaus Wiegerling: Participation and societal decision making

This contribution refers to public engagement as a central element of responsible research and innovation. Starting from the perspective of participatory technology assessment different conceptual frames of participation are discussed. The examples refer to focus group arrangements in TA (Technology Assessment) projects to the first German Citizens Dialogue, in which up to 800 citizens were involved.

Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) became the orienting notion in the current Research Framework Programme of the European Commission (Schomberg 2013). However, the conceptual framework of RRI is still “under construction” and therefore vague. In the provisional conceptual papers one can find an overlap with existing approaches such as technology assessment or foresight and in the official documents of the European Commission the five key elements of RRI are mentioned as societal engagement, gender equality and gender in research and innovation content, open access, science education and ethics (H2020). Moreover scholars remind us of the lessons learned with respect to trandisciplinary research and the related criteria of quality control (Wickson, Carew 2014).

 

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