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Professor Alan Winfield, Bristol Robotics Laboratory and Director of the Science Communication Unit, University of the West of England (UWE), Bristol

 We’re generally inclined to trust technology if it brings benefits, is safe, well-regulated and, when accidents do happen, subject to robust investigation. We trust airliners, for example, because they are part of a highly regulated industry with an excellent safety record.  In his presentation Alan will put forward the case that responsible robotics needs similarly strong ethical governance and will outline a new framework for the governance of robotics and AI.

  • Trains, planes and automobiles – should we create a Civil Aviation Authority equivalent to govern autonomous vehicles?
  • The role of the regulator – consumer protection and public trust
  • Responsible innovation – linking ethics, standards and regulation
  • Public engagement – transparency is vital in building trust

In 1984, shortly after completing a PhD in digital communications Alan co-founded APD Communications Ltd before taking up an appointment at UWE in 1991. He co-founded the Bristol Robotics Laboratory, where his research is focussed on understanding the nature and limits of robot intelligence.  Alan led ‘Walking with Robots’ a UK-wide public engagement project with the Engineering & Physical Sciences Research (EPSRC), which won the 2010 Royal Academy of Engineering Rooke medal for public promotion of engineering.  He is a strong advocate of robot ethics; he is a member of the British Standards Institute working group which drafted BS 8611: Guide to the ethical design of robots, published in April 2016.  Alan has published extensively, including ‘Robotics:  A very short introduction’ (OUP, 2012), and blogs on robots and related topics at