Conference relation & Event structure

Based on an examination of proceedings for previous IROS conferences, regular sessions tend to focus on technical developments in robotics and human-robot interaction, with little emphasis on how findings from interdisciplinary work with social scientists can enhance methodological reflection in robotics design.This workshop offers an opportunity for professional development and advancing the field in terms of ethical and sustainable practices, in line with the goals of both IEEE and IEEE RAS to benefit humanity and to maintain high professional standards whilst promoting scientific and technical progress in robotics and automation.

We reviewed IROS programs and performed a database search of IROS proceedings for the past 10 years. Of roughly 10,000 results, there were 11 results for gender, 8 results for ethics or ethical, and 202 (irrelevant) results for “values”. Only the results for ethicswere topically relevant to this workshop (e.g., embedding ethics in design). The results for genderwere instrumental, in measuring perceived gendered aspects of robot voice with regard to acceptance, for example. Whereas in this workshop, gender relates to the stereotypes implicitly produced in robotic designs. The results for valueswere completely irrelevant to this workshop due to the ambiguity of the term. A subsequent search and review of IROS proceedings for user-centered and human-centered approaches showed that the application of these principles is still somewhat superficial.

The roboticists co-organizing this event have expertise in working interdisciplinarily and employing new robot design models to address normative and constrained thinking in order to ensure more human-centered design. Their methodological approaches complement the value-oriented perspectives of the other organizers. This workshop will present several new tools (the serious puzzle game, the model of affective design, and the co-produced reflection tool) that participating roboticists can engage with in hands-on activities and take into their own design practices after the conference.

Therefore, we find that this workshop on ethics, values, and gender/stereotypes will provide a timely and relevant methodological contribution to the participants of the International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems.

Structure of the event

As highlighted above, workshops that target a wide range of participants, that go beyond the technological aspects of robotics to examine the methodological and ethical aspects of robot development, that also offer hands-on exploration of existing design tools and the co-production of a shared vocabulary and a reflection tool, seldom take place at a mostly technical conference like IROS. In this regard, we provide a unique occasion at IROS for hands-on engagement with human-centered design through a multi-disciplinary lens.

The event is structured into four synergetic sessions, involving practical design activities, discussions, and co-production of a prototype reflection tool. The introductory panel will deliver insights into the relation of ethics and values in design processes, tailored to the attending audience, and presented via an innovative browser-based choose-your-own-adventure puzzle game. Together, we will form a shared vocabulary for our subsequent discussions. In the second and third sessions, the participants will collaborate in smaller groups to produce a physical model of a robot design in two iterations, which they will present to the group in plenary. They will put the shared vocabulary into practice by reflecting on their own design choices with special attention to gendered decisions as a taken-for-granted (guided by invited speakers whose research centers on these issues). Thus, we will engage the participants in the challenge of making design decisions and at the same time encourage them to engage in reflection activities. In session four, the synergetic closing group discussion, we will co-develop a (prototype) practical reflection tool that will later be refined and disseminated to the participants, as well as a larger audience, with the shared vocabulary produced in session one and a systematized summary of the entire workshop.

Through the suggested division into conceptual and practical aspects of translating ethics into values, and incorporating them into hands-on design challenges, we will provide the possibility to encourage an open-ended discussion on how to interweave design decisions and reflection activities in the everyday development of robots.