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Robot Ethics Unit 6: Transparency and Explainabilty in Robotics and AI

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1 Hour
Unit overview

In this unit, we will explore transparency, and the closely related topic of accident investigation.

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Further Information
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Level Technical
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Alan Winfield is Professor of Robot Ethics at the University of the West of England (UWE), Bristol, UK, Visiting Professor at the University of York, and Associate Fellow of the Cambridge Centre NEC Software Solution until taking-up appointment at UWE, Bristol in 1992. Alan co-founded the Bristol Robotics Laboratory where his current research is focused on the science, engineering and ethics of cognitive robotics.

Alan is passionate about communicating research and ideas in science, engineering and technology; he led UK-wide public engagement project Walking with Robots, awarded the 2010 Royal Academy of Engineering Rooke medal for public promotion of engineering. For some years he was director of UWE’s Science Communication Unit. A frequent commentator for the press and media, he was a guest on the BBC Radio 4 series The Life Scientific and interviewed for BBC News HARDtalk.

Alan is an advocate for robot ethics; he sits on the executive of the IEEE Standards Association Global Initiative on Ethics of Autonomous and Intelligent Systems, and chairs Working Group P7001, drafting a new IEEE standard on Transparency of Autonomous Systems. He is also a member of the World Economic Forum’s Global AI Council. Alan has published over 250 works, including Robotics: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford University Press, 2012); he lectures widely on robotics, presenting to both academic and public audiences, and blogs at

Type Unit
What you will learn
By the end of this unit, you will:

• Understand transparency in the context of robots and AI, and why transparency is so important.
• Understand that transparency means different things to different stakeholders.
• Understand how transparency in robotics and AI systems can be achieved and demonstrated.
• Understand the importance of robot accident investigation.
Who should learn
Students are expected to have an appreciation of robotics, related fields, and their significance in the modern world. The course would be suitable for students of A-level technology, undergraduate, or postgraduate robotics or artificial intelligence.
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