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Tufts University Associate Professor of Computer Science and Director of the Human-Robot Interaction Laboratory, Matthias Scheutz, spoke at the December 2012 Knox Lecture Series in Engineering Ethics. His talk, “Virtues and Vices of Social Robots” addressed the potential benefits of developing and deploying social robots with the potential dangers of having such robots in our lives.

Read the TuftsNow feature on Scheutz, “What Would R2-D2 Do?”


Knox Lecture Series, Winter 2012: Matthias Scheutz – Images by Tufts University
Synopsis of Scheutz’s talk

Social robots are slowly but surely becoming part of our society, from simple vacuum cleaning robots, to entertainment robots, robot pets, robot dolls, therapy robots, and many others.

Social robots will have many useful applications as genuine helpers including: hospitals and elder care settings, in search and rescue missions, in space exploration settings, and many others. Yet, there are also possible dangers of unidirectional emotional bonds that humans will likely form as a result of their interactions with social robots leading to emotional dependencies and potential disturbances of social structures.

About The Knox Lecture Series in Engineering Ethics

The Knox lecture Series in Engineering Ethics, established by an engineering alumnus, is named in honor of Associate Engineering Dean Kim Knox. The new series, administered by the Tufts Gordon Institute, will focus on engineering ethics, technology policy and social justice. High profile engineering leaders will address topics ranging from intellectual property and privacy to the ethical implications of evolving fields such as genetics, nanotechnology, climate change and sustainable development.

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