Creative Innovation 2019 (Ci2019)

MC 6: Challenging ethical paradigms for the one or the many: Are democratically informed technologies better?

Professor Kathleen Richardson (UK)

Professor, Ethics, Culture, Robots and AI at De Montfort University
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1 April 2019, 2:15pm – 4:45pm


The vision of the lone (mainly male) inventor building technology based on ‘his’ egocentric vision has long dominated the culture of western technological development and invention. Some argue that including the public into meaningful involvement with technological development will limit innovation and enterprise and reduce economic development. While others believe it could transform it into more socially responsible technologies.

At present, in the European Union and the UK there is a high value placed on stakeholder participation and to consider ethics in EU funded technology projects, but do stakeholders really get to change any of the technologies developed? Is their’s involvement meaningful or lip service? What about the different interests and knowledge bases – how does a new system balance the complexity?

Finally, government regulation is frequently presented as a restraint on private corporate technological development. Should we give free reign to technology or is restraint necessary? Is there a case for other kinds of meaningful laws and regulation? This workshop will explore how we can meaningful think about democratic participation and examine what kinds of hope or barriers will come from creating new paradigms of technological change that incorporate otherness.


  • How we can meaningfully think about democratic participation
  • What kinds of hope or barriers will come from creating new paradigms of technological change that incorporate otherness?
  • What kind of futures are possible drawing on the dialogical and otherness model versus the individualistic ‘egocentric’ approaches?
  • How do we create meaningful dialogue between people with different stakes, education, power and resources?
  • Is government really a barrier to innovation?
  • What scope do we have as human beings to create a world built on empathy?

Kathleen Richardson is Professor of Ethics of Culture of Robots and AI at the Centre for Computing and Social Responsibility (CCSR) at De Montfort University. Kathleen completed her PhD at the Department of Social Anthropology, University of Cambridge and she has carried out research on different kinds of robots including social robots, robots for children with autism and sex robots. She is author of An Anthropology of Robots and AI: Annihilation Anxiety and Machines (2015), Challenging Sociality: An Anthropology of Robots, Autism and Attachment (2018). and Sex Robots: The End of Love (forthcoming 2019). She is also founder of the Campaign Against Sex Robots.

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