Living with Robots #ESRCfestival

This year, the University of Salford produced 12 events within the ESRC Festival of Social Science, which spanned a wide range of topics. Among them was an event designed to engage people on the rise of the robot. We brought together families to have a conversation about what the future might look like among robots and used the act of making robots as a device to stimulate these discussions.

Among our amazing team were Marieke Navin, Gary Kerr, and the fantastic Steve Summers of Noisy Toys fame and Nick Hawken who delivered a Lego Wedo workshop. We also had an amazing Minecraft experience called Patterncraft, which involved using a punch card device to create a movement pattern in the game, bringing together the analogue and digital worlds.

As a stimulus for the discussions, we also asked some of the world's experts on robotics to pose questions and this is what they came up with:

What will the robots think of us humans?
Prof Kevin Warwick, the world's first cyborg

Do you think that robots should take over all human work?
Prof Noel Sharkey, presenter of Robot Wars

Can robots ever be regarded as people, and if so, how differently would you have to treat them from how you treat them now?
Prof Steve Fuller, Author of Humanity 2.0 - what happens when we evolve

Can a robot feel, and why does it matter?
Dr Susan Schneider, philosopher of artificial intelligence?

Do you think a robot could dream?
Tsvi Bisk, Strategic Futurist

What should robots be forbidden from doing?
Didier Coeurnelle, transhumanist