Ritualizing Robots: Dr. Qin Zhu on Ethics & Human-Robot Interaction

Guest Speakers

By Olivia Burgess

If children are trained to treat robots with respect, saying “Excuse me, Alexa” instead of “Hey, Alexa?”, would they in turn treat other humans more respectfully? This is one of the many intriguing questions that interests Dr. Qin Zhu, who was the first speaker in our STS Speaker Series. 

On March 30th, Dr. Zhu gave a virtual campus talk on his research titled “Ritualizing Robots: A Confucian Approach to the Design of Ethical Human-Robot Interactions.” Dr. Zhu introduced a fundamental concept in STS: technologies reflect human values. For instance, a speed bump in a quiet neighborhood slows you down because people want to create a safe environment. If you do not slow down, your car may be damaged, which is both a physical and social punishment for disregarding the value of safety.

The same applies to robots: they are designed for a purpose, they embody human values, and how we interact with them says a lot about ourselves as moral beings. For instance, if you hit a robot, you may be more likely to hit another human.

Guest Presentation: Ritualizing Robots by Dr. Qin Zhu

Events, Guest Speakers

We are happy to welcome Dr. Qin Zhu of the Colorado School of Mines as a guest speaker this week! On Tuesday, March 30th, from 7-8 pm (Mountain time), he will address ethical issues that arise from humans interacting with robots. He will draw on both Confucian ethics and research from human-robot interaction studies. For more, see the poster below! (Zoom link)