Developing robots that work in our world:  programming morals, manners and business etiquette

As robots become more human-like, competent and intelligent our expectations of their behaviour are raised.  If they are to work with collaboratively with humans, robots must learn to live by a code of morals and manners that their team mates recognise and share.  But how do we teach machines to comprehend and practice a complex code of social mores, or for that matter, corporate behaviours, that have evolved over centuries and that even we find hard to define (just why is it wrong to turn your back to someone in a crowd or answer someone else’s mobile when it rings?).  Nigel outlines two divergent approaches to teaching robots social and business etiquette and, drawing on research under way at Oxford Brookes, outlines practical applications.

  • ‘Business rules’ vs machine learning in robot education – how a combined approach prevents your robot being an oaf on day one
  • Morals, manners and mores – defining the components of a socially collaborative machine
  • Get the rage off the road – the machine learning programme that’s turning autonomous cars into gracious road users
  • When it’s tough to talk – how robots can interview children and victims of abuse that find it tough to talk to adults in authority

Nigel has more than 30 years’ experience as a lecturer in computer science and researcher in AI.  He currently leads research into cognitive robots at Oxford Brookes and is an expert reviewer and evaluator for the European Commission.  His research interests include biologically inspired machine learning, embodied conversational agents, social robotics and human-robot interaction. He graduated in computing and philosophy from Lancaster University and has a PhD in medical expert systems.