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The University of Southampton

Artificial Ethics Symposium Event

Aether drone
18 - 19 December 2017
Lecture Theatre C, Avenue Campus, University of Southampton SO17 1BF

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

Event details

A Joint 2-Day Symposium and workshop by the Southampton Ethics Centre and the University of Southampton Autonomous Systems University Strategic Research Group. The event is free to attend but registration is essential. Register via the Book this event button above.

Autonomous systems are set to become ever more integrated into human society. We have self-driving cars, pilotless aircraft. There are systems approving mortgages and offering financial advice.

This symposium will explore the ethical challenges - both theoretical and practical - which surround the development and implementation of such systems.

Keynote speakers:

Prof. Rafaela Hillerbrand. Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (NL) 

Prof. Noah Goodall. Virginia Transportation Research Council

Dr Sven Nyholm. Eindhoven University of Technology (NL)

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

Professor James Scanlan. Professor of Design within Engineering and the Environment at the University of Southampton

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

Relevant questions to be addressed include:

  • Should machine ethics simply extend existing human ethical systems?
  • Are the ethical standards for machines the same as those for people in identical circumstances?
  • Should we program machines with explicit ethical rules, or by something more akin to exemplar-based learning?
  • If we program machines to be ethical and they disagree with us, might we defer to them?
  • Can a machine be held responsible for wrongdoing?
  • To what extent should the government oversee machine ethics, and to what extent should it be left to the market? Or should the sector be self-regulating?
  • What are the main ethical risks of autonomous systems?
  • What ethical benefits might there be to automation?

The Symposium will feature keynote talks by both ethicists and engineers, panel and roundtable discussions. There are a limited number of places at the symposium dinner. Please note your interest when you register.


The event is wheelchair accessible, and an induction loop (or Roger Pen) can be made available. We are able to book Lactation Rooms, Rest Rooms, Sign Language Interpreters and Electronic Note-takers, but we can only guarantee availability if requests have been received by 18.11.2017. Please contact: if you have any queries.


The University Nursery is OFSTED-regulated and offers a limited number of places for children aged between four months and five years. Advance booking is required for this service and is made on a ‘first come, first served’ basis.

As conference organiser I can also support parents in hiring an event nanny.  Tinies ( are a well-regarded national organization.  Each event nanny can take care of up to three children, who don’t need to be siblings, so if there is more than one parent needing childcare, I can put them in touch with each so that they can share the cost.  We also help by booking a room for the Nanny and children and by providing access to toilets and kitchen. If parents agree, Event Nannies are able to take older children out.  We can provide suggestions for good places to take children in Southampton.

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