Symposium: "Robotics: From Science Fiction to Ethical and Legal Issues"

Several essential philosophical questions about the human/robot interaction have been initially addressed in literature and films: human/robot interaction deeply affects the imagination. Robotic research matches fears and expectations communicated by science-fiction. Such technology-based visions of the future are incentivized by the fact that funding for technology-oriented research may be obtained more easily when presented with far reaching missions. In these visions (utopias and dystopias) machines become more and more sophisticated. Such autonomous behaviour raises moral and legal concerns. The legal system needs to provide solutions for various challenges. Regulation may allow the substantial benefits of robotic systems to reach the market earlier. Robots may also be available to a larger public. At the same time, it may provide the technical tools and criteria to prevent or, at least, mitigate the (socially) undesired effects. 

Thus, current and emergent technologies in robotics demand not only a technically feasible, but also an ethically and legally sound basis for future developments in robotics. 

This symposium will focus on technical options and philosophical-normative issues in robotics. The organizers will give four short kick-off presentations and then moderate a roundtable discussion with participants. The roundtable will also provide an opportunity to present results of the RoboLaw project (, which seeks to provide ethical and legal recommendations for the European Commission, in order to establish a solid framework for robotics ethics and robotics law in Europe. 

Symposium Organisers: 
Dr. Fiorella Battaglia 
Assistant Professor of Philosophy 
Ludwigstr. 31, 80539 Munich, Germany 
Prof. Dr. Barbara Henry 
Full Professor of Political Philosophy 
Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna, 
Piazza Martiri della Libertà, 33, 56127 Pisa, Italy 
Prof. Dr. Erica Palmerini 
Professor of Private Law 
Coordinator of RoboLaw project (
Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna, 
Piazza Martiri della Libertà, 33, 56127 Pisa, Italy 
Dr. Dr. Sabine Thürmel 
Independent Researcher in Philosophy and Computer Science 
Lecturer at the Munich Center for Technology in Society 
Technische Universität München 
Arcisstr. 21, 80333 Munich, Germany