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The University of Southampton
Autonomous Systems

Artificial Ethics: Moral and Practical Challenges in the age of the Machine Event

09:00 - 17:00
18 - 19 December 2017
Lecture Theatre C, Avenue Campus, University of Southampton

For more information regarding this event, please email Will McNeill at .

Event details

Autonomous systems are becoming ever-more sophisticated and they will become ever-more integrated into our daily lives.

This joint 2-day symposium and workshop is a collaboration between the Autonomous Systems University Strategic Research Group and the Southampton Ethics Centre in the Faculty of Humanities, and will explore issues around integrating robotics and autonomous systems into human affairs. It aims to bring philosophers and ethicists together with engineers, operators and other stakeholders in the autonomous revolution. 

There are already driverless cars on our roads, pilotless aircraft in our skies and un-crewed boats and ships in our rivers and seas. Less visibly mortgage approvals, financial advice, advert targeting and other decisions are increasingly left to the machines. The prevalence and sophistication of such systems is set to grow at a huge pace over the coming years. Such developments generate two kinds of ethical challenge. On the one hand we should reflect on how or the extent to which such systems should be integrated into society, and the role of governments as well as other stakeholders in limiting or regulating their adoption and development. On the other hand we need to consider how such systems could be designed to behave in ways that are ethically acceptable. If autonomous vehicles are to share space with humans they will be required to behave in ways which may have direct moral implications.

Launching an AUV



  • 09.45-10.00: Welcome & introduction
  • 10.00-10.45: Keynote: Prof. Rafaela Hillerbrand, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology: 'Digitalization to realize our energy future: Smart grids and autonomous driving and why ethics cannot deal with one without the other'
  • 10.45-11.05: Dr Bani Anvari, Transportation Research Group, University of Southampton: Title tbc & respondent TBC
  • 11.05-11.30: Coffee and biscuits
  • 11.30-12.00: Dr Sebastian Stein, ECS, University of Southampton: ‘Future smart transportation systems, smart electric vehicle charging, crowdsourcing and participatory sensing’
  • 12.05-12.35: Dr Thomas Grote, University of Tubingen: 'Should we defer policy decisions to machines?'
  • 12.35-12.55: Commander James Farrant, Royal Navy, NOCS: 'Legal Reviews of Autonomous Weapons Systems' (respondent TBC)
  • 13.00-14.00: Buffet lunch
  • 14.00-14.45: Keynote: Noah J. Goodall, Virginia Tech: 'Risk Management: Applying Ethics to Engineering Problems'
  • 14.50-15.10: Alex Horlock, Autonomous Systems, Tekever: 'What can we do with geo-referenced data and autonomous systems?' (respondent TBC)
  • 15.10-15.45: Tea and cakes
  • 15..45-16.30: Keynote: Prof. Neville Stanton, Human Factors in Transport, University of Southampton: ‘Human Factors challenges for driving automation’
  • 16..35-17.15: Panel discussion


  • 09.30-10.00 Coffee and biscuits
  • 10.00-10.45 Keynote: Dr Will McNeill & Dr Fiona Woollard, Philosophy, University of Southampton: 'Driverless Cars and Ethics without Algorithms'
  • 10.45-11.15: Dr Mario Brito, Centre for Risk Research, University of Southampton: 'Risk Management Strategies for Autonomous Underwater Vehicles Operations: What can they tell us about ethics adoption in this industry?'
  • 11.20-11.30: Coffee
  • 11.30-12.00 Joanna Wilson, School of Law, University of Glasgow: 'Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems: The End of Humanity in International Humanitarian Law?'
  • 12.05-12.50 Keynote: Roland J. Rogers, National Oceanography Centre, Southampton: ‘Yes Dull, Dangerous and Dirty but do not forget Deep – The Governance of deep ocean AUV operations’
  •  13.00-14.00: buffet lunch
  • 14.00-14.30 Geoff Keeling,  Philosophy, University of Bristol: 'Against Leben’s Rawlsian Collision Algorithm for Driverless Cars'
  • 14.35-14.55 Paul Smart, ECS, University of Southampton: 'Social Properties and Generative Modelling' (respondent TBC)
  • 14.55-15.30: Tea and cakes
  • 15.30-16.15 Keynote: Dr Sven Nyholm, Eindhoven University of Technology: 'Artificial agency, human responsibility'
  • 16.20-16.45 Panel discussion
  • 16.45-17.00 Closing Words

Speaker information:

Professor Neville Stanton Professor of Human Factors in Transport, University of Southampton:

Professor Neville Stanton, PhD, is both a Chartered Psychologist and a Chartered Engineer and holds the Chair in Human Factors in the Faculty of Engineering and the Environment at the University of Southampton. He has degrees in Psychology, Applied Psychology and Human Factors and has worked at the Universities of Aston, Brunel, Cornell and MIT. His research interests include modelling, predicting and analysing human performance in transport systems as well as designing the interfaces between humans and technology. Professor Stanton has worked on cockpit design in automobiles and aircraft over the past 25 years, working on a variety of automation projects. He has published 30 books and over 200 journal papers on Ergonomics and Human Factors, and is currently an editor of the peer-reviewed journal Ergonomics. In 1998 he was awarded the Institution of Electrical Engineers Divisional Premium Award for a co-authored paper on Engineering Psychology and System Safety. The Institution of Ergonomics and Human Factors awarded him The Otto Edholm Medal in 2001, The President¹s Medal in 2008 and The Sir Frederic Bartlett Medal in 2012 for his contribution to basic and applied ergonomics research. The Royal Aeronautical Society awarded him and his colleagues the Hodgson Prize and Bronze Medal in 2006 for research on design-induced flight-deck error published in The Aeronautical Journal. The University of Southampton have awarded him a DSc in 2014 for his sustained contribution to the development and validation of Human Factors methods.

 Dr Mario Brito is Lecturer in Risk Analysis and Risk Management, University of Southampton

Professor Rafaela Hillerbrand Professor of Philosophy of Science and Technology Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (NL)

Professor Noah Goodall intelligent transportation systems, & vehicle communication and automation, Virginia Transportation Research Council (US).

Dr Will McNeill and Dr Fiona Woollard, University of Southampton, Philosophy

Alex Horlock, Tekever

Dr Sebastian Stein, Physical Sciences & Engineering, University of Southampton

Roland Rogers, Advisor in Marine Law and Policy, National Marine Facilities, National Oceanography Centre

Dr Bani Anvari, Human Factors in Transport, University of Southampton

Talk Abstracts:

  • Neville Stanton: Vehicle automation is having a dramatic effect on the driver and driving, such that the cognitive and behavioural processes and functions and processes that were traditionally performed by the driver are increasing be performed by automotive software and hardware. Such functions include: perceiving objects and events; comprehending objects and events; developing situation awareness; remembering objects and events; problem solving; planning; judging objects and events; communicating; braking, accelerating and steering in response to objects and events. The perennial problem is what tasks are left over for the driver to perform and the effects of these left over tasks on performance. There is also some concern in the way in which vehicle control is passed between the driver and vehicle automation. Research to date has shown that driver performance is generally decremented where automation replaces their performance but can be improved where automation augments driver performance. Such research shows that increasing vehicle automation significantly reduces the driver’s ability to reclaim control of the vehicle when required to do so. Whilst the may seem like an argument for augmentation over automation, even examples of driver augmentation cannot guarantee improved performance if it is poorly implemented. This research has been developing methods and models for examining distributed cognition in automobile automation as well as generating new insights into the nature of how distributed cognition works in practice. Ultimately this research aims to design automotive automation in a manner that improves driver performance and makes driving safer and more enjoyable.
  • Roland Rogers: This paper looks at the status of applicable ocean governance as it relates to advances in autonomous underwater vehicle [AUV] technology.  The advances of interest are those that are allowing sustained operations of these vehicles in the deep ocean at water depths of greater than 1000 meters, to achieve both traditional and new scientific, commercial and naval objectives. Will these "out of sight, out of mind" AUV operations give rise to the questioning by the global maritime community as to the adequacy of the existing legal governance regimes.







Speaker information

Various,See programme,More details will be added as they are confirmed

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