About the ROBOETHICS Symposium

The First Roboethics Symposium is not a traditional conference with technical presentations on Robotics and its application. Actually the Speakers, while presenting the results of their researches and prototypes, will focus on the social implications of their scientific activities.
The aim of the event is to offer an opportunity for scientists to dialogue among themselves, and with scholars coming from disciplines apparently far from Robotics - such as Philosophy, Sociology, Anthropology, Science Fiction, Literature - about the near future effects of the presence robots in our societies.

In the Western world, in Japan, United States, Europe, in the next decades humanoids robots will be among us, companions to elderly and kids, assistant to nurse, physicians, firemen, workers. They will have eyes, human voices, hands and legs; skin to cover their gears and "brain" with multiple functions. Often, they will be smarter and quicker than the people they ought to assist.

Are the intelligent robot conscious? Do they "think"? do they feel emotions, love, pain? There is already a thread of discussion about the "consciousness" of intelligent machines.
Or, more ground earthly: Will the robot be dangerous for humankind? Once they will have learned from us everything, or understood that we are weaker than them, will they try to dominate us?

All this can be judged awful questions, far from our daily life. But, we are already witnessing, in the behaviour of layers of our populations confronted with the lasting use of intelligent machines such as pc's, play stations, mobile phones and even the TV screen, the rise of a subordinated attitude by humans towards its creature.

What will it happen when this smart robots will be our servants and house stewards, and when our lives will depend on them?

The scientists and scholars coming to Sanremo from all over the world will try to answer this questions, offering they personal answers as women and men of science, and as concerned people.

The making of the Roboethics Symposium

The need for a Roboethics rose in the framework of the activities of the School of Robotics, a non profit organization whose mission is to promote the knowledge of the science of Robotics among students, and the general public.

In discussions with students and non specialists, Gianmarco Veruggio and Fiorella Operto became aware of the necessity to avoid the spread of misconceptions among the general public about the alleged dangers posed by Robotics and its products (as it is to combat ignorance and prejudices about every other manifestation of scientific and technological progress). On the contrary, they thought that by opening a productive debate based on accurate insights and real knowledge, people could take an active part in the education of public opinion able to comprehend the positive uses of the new technology, and prevent its abuse.

Gianmarco Veruggio was born in Sanremo. He knew that Alfred Nobel lived there his last days, at his Villa in Sanremo, where Nobel died, on Dec. 1986, and he wrote his last will. Today Villa Nobel is the see of prestigious cultural initiatives and it houses permanent museum of Nobel relics together with a gallery of Italian Nobel Prizes.

As millions of other young people, he had read Isaac Asimov's novel, I, Robot, the Trilogy of the Foundation and all the discussion about the "three laws".

After discussions with Robotic Scientist Paolo Dario and Theologian Josť Maria Galvan, who had already organized some events on "Technoethics" with the participation of specialists from Japan and other Nations, Veruggio asked for sponsor and support from local Authorities, especially the Province of Imperia (the District where Sanremo lies), which is also the owner of Villa Nobel. The Province granted support, and hospitality at Villa Nobel for the Roboethics Symposium.

The International Institute for Humanitarian Law, based in Geneva and Sanremo, whose mission is to promote the application of international humanitarian law, thus contributing to the safeguard and respect of human rights and fundamental freedoms throughout the world, also participated in the organizing of the event.

The Symposium logo is represented by a young smiling girl receiving a flower by a chivalrous humanoid robot. This drawing was done by Maestro Lele Luzzati specifically for the event. When Fiorella Operto asked him the favour to sketch the logo, Luzzati imagined that the best way to communicate the concept of the Human-Robot coexistence and cooperation would be the artistically drawn relationship between a gentle Robot and a kid.

Understanding and supporting the high scopes of the Symposium, the Italian Parliament and important Italian Institutions awarded their patronage.

Draft 5th Jan '04