workshop on the legal, ethical and social issues regarding therapeutic and educational robotics

Workshop Proposal, Almere, The Netherlands (22-23 Oct 2015)


  • The aim of the workshop is to discuss risks and solutions for the insertion of Personal Care, Therapeutic and Companion Robots in healthcare. Special attention is drawn to therapeutic robots. Experts and researchers from different backgrounds are invited to devise what problems the utilization of assistive robotic technology will have to face in certain domains; and what simple solutions can be applied to mitigate those risks.
  • Even if heeding legal and ethical aspects, this workshop is not scope-limited. On the contrary, it aims at creating intelligible bridges between different disciplines. Indeed, a problem raised by a psychologist in relation to this technology could be relevant also in legal terms; maybe that problem could be solved by simply applying some privacy enhancing technologies; and maybe that solution could solve the concerns raised by the psychologist, or it could also, and at the same time, be of help to a caregiver in a hospital.
  • The workshop will be divided in the above-mentioned different types of robots (not in concrete topics). Researchers are intended to come up with the problems they see (risk scenarios) and the solutions they can already envisage regarding the use of personal care, therapeutic and companion robots. Sometimes the same problem may be relevant for all three categories. That is positive: our research should not be limited by strict categorization. In fact, some solutions will also be shared for all robots. In that case, the shared risks/solutions will be grouped.

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  • [Personal Care Robots]: Person Carrier Robots, Physical Assistant Robots and Mobile Servant Robots – from minor to complex risk scenarios, Internet of Everything, distinction between social and non-social assistive robots and robot organs/prostheses.
  • [Therapeutic Robots]: Cognitive Therapeutic Robots and Physiotherapeutic Robots – implications for the use of robots in therapy, substitutions, benefits and risks, robot friendly therapies.
  • [Companion Robots]: ‘Robot&Frank’ Robot alike – when robots are intended to be persons, power of robot decisions, trustful recommendations from the companion, true feeling fake entity, the lies in the relationship.


Relevant topics include, but are not limited to:

  • Legal issues differing from liability and privacy concerns. Robots as a new semi-entity and their protection.
  • Stop re-interpreting the Law. Creation of new principles governing new realities.
  • Befriend the robots. Gradual deception acceptance.
  • Fear of Presence and Robot-psychology. Where to center the focus: on the machine or on the humans.
  • Lawful-by-Design Robots and their subject to liability. Embedding laws and ethics in robot architectures.
  • Uncanny valley and the world humans are creating.
  • Talking to a death person: Google patent for personalized robots and the future of companion robots.
  • Truth in relationships with robots. The complexity of social situations.
  • Robotic prostheses and super humans. The upcoming robotic organs and their transplantation to human bodies.
  • The truth behind the depersonalization of the treatment.
  • Robots as therapists or robots as instrumental for therapy with children, disabled or elderly.
  • Isolation provoked by companion robots. Connected-ness issues and improvement of social skills.
  • Robots: objects or agents? Could they be considered as semi-agents?
  • Actions towards acceptance of robots: patients, practitioners and third parties.
  • Projection of human ethics to the machines. Should we expect more from robots? Should persons change first?
  • Etc.