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HumanTech Meetings II: From Myths and Legends to Robots. Ethics in Designing Artificial Beings

HumanTech Meetings II: From Myths and Legends to Robots. Ethics in Designing Artificial Beings

Robots, especially those taking on humanoid forms, evoke various emotions—from fear to curiosity and even a desire for friendship. In our upcoming HumanTech Meeting, we will delve into the ethical considerations surrounding the creation of androids. Join us as we navigate this complex issue our distinguished guests, Dr. Kamil Mamak and Dr. David J. Gunkel.

February 1, 2024
17:00–20:00 CET (UTC+1)

Robot Ethics

Is the development of human-like robots a boundary-pushing endeavor, akin to playing God? Or is it merely facilitating our interaction with machines? These questions are at the heart of the first of this year's HumanTech Meetings, where we confront the dilemmas associated with humanoid robots. Renowned specialists, Dr. Kamil Mamak from the University of Helsinki and Jagiellonian University, and Dr. David J. Gunkel from the University of Northern Illinois, will share their expertise.

The lectures will be followed by a panel discussion, exploring the latest report by the HumanTech Center and the IDEAS NCBR Ltd, titled "What do Poles think about robots?" moderated by Dr. Krzysztof Walas.

Dr. Konrad Maj, Head of the Center for Social and Technological Innovation HumanTech at SWPS University, will open the meeting.

Lectures will be held in Polish and English and will be translated simultaneously.

The event is held under the auspices of Strefa Technologii (Technology Zone) of SWPS University

HumanTech Meetings

We live in an era of innovation, technological progress and digitalization. This current innovation drive may lead to unpredictable psychological and social outcomes. Therefore, it is crucial to establish collaborations between engineers, programmers, IT specialists and social scientists during initial phases of any new projects related to development of new technologies or services. Such collaborations may help to avoid mistakes and can support better development of new ideas.

The project is planned as a series of meetings, gathering academics and professionals from the technology sector from Poland and other countries. Each meeting will include two lectures, one delivered by a speaker from Poland and one presented by a guest from another country. The lectures will be followed by panel discussions, where panelists will represent different approaches to innovation and technology.

HumanTech Meetings is a project of SWPS University's Center for Social and Technological Innovation.

  1. Kamil Mamak: Ethics of Human-Like Robot Design

    Explore the historical roots of creating synthetic humans, tracing back to ancient myths where gods breathed life into artificial beings. The term “robot” gained prominence with Karel Čapek's drama R.U.R. (Rossumovi Univerzální Roboti), envisioning beings crafted from artificial tissue to serve humans. Recent strides in robotics are turning this once-fictional concept into reality, with major companies announcing the development of humanoid robots applicable in various sectors, from police force to healthcare, and even areas like companionship. This lecture delves into the ethical implications stemming from the striking resemblance of androids to humans and our inclination to anthropomorphize them. It operates under the premise that design choices are not neutral and should be scrutinized to ensure that these creations align with human values. As robots transition from conceptual to physical entities, potential challenges must be addressed before widespread implementation. The lecture focuses on specific ethical issues, offering practical recommendations to enhance the alignment of robots with human values.

  2. David J. Gunkel: Person, Thing, Robot

    Robots are a curious sort of thing. On the one hand, they are designed and manufactured technological artifacts. They are things. Yet, and on the other hand, these things are not quite like other things. They seem to have social presence. They are able to talk and interact with us. And many are designed to mimic or simulate the capabilities and behaviors that are commonly associated with human or animal intelligence. Robots therefore invite and encourage zoomorphism, anthropomorphism, and even personification. In his new book Person, Thing, Robot (MIT Press, 2023), David J. Gunkel sets out to answer the vexing question: What exactly is a robot? Rather than try to fit robots into the existing moral and legal categories by way of arguing for either their reification or personification, however, Gunkel argues for a revolutionary reformulation of the entire system, developing a new approach to technology ethics that can scale to the unique opportunities and challenges of the twenty-first century and beyond.

Keynote Speakers

David J. Gunkel, keynote speaker at HumanTech Meeting hosted by SWPS University
David J. Gunkel
David J. Gunkel is an award-winning educator, researcher, and author, specializing in the philosophy of technology with a focus on the moral and legal challenges of artificial intelligence and robots. He is the author of over 90 scholarly articles and has published thirteen books, including Thinking Otherwise: Philosophy, Communication, Technology (Purdue University Press 2007), The Machine Question: Critical Perspectives on AI, Robots, and Ethics (MIT Press 2012), Of Remixology: Ethics and Aesthetics After Remix (MIT Press 2016), Robot Rights (MIT Press 2018), and Person, Thing, Robot: A Moral and Legal Ontology for the 21st Century and Beyond (MIT Press 2023). He currently holds the position of Presidential Research, Scholarship and Artistry Professor in the Department of Communication at Northern Illinois University (USA) and Associate Professor of Applied Ethics at Lazarski University in Warsaw, Poland.
Kamil Mamak, keynote speaker at HumanTech Meeting hosted by SWPS University
Kamil Mamak
Kamil Mamak is a philosopher, lawyer, and postdoctoral researcher at the RADAR (Robophilosophy, AI Ethics, and Datafication) research group, University of Helsinki. Additionally, he holds the position of Assistant Professor at Jagiellonian University and Member of the Board of the Kraków Institute of Criminal Law. He holds doctoral degrees in law and philosophy. Dr. Mamak authored four books, including Robotics, AI, and Criminal Law: Crimes against Robots, published by Routledge in 2023. He has published more than 40 book chapters and peer-reviewed articles in international journals, including the European Journal of Criminology, Ethics and Information Technology, International Journal of Social Robotics, AI & Society, Medicine, Healthcare, and Philosophy, Science and Engineering Ethics, European Journal of Crime, Criminal Law and Criminal Justice, Frontiers in Robotics and AI, and Criminal Justice Studies. He received a research grant from the National Science Center in Poland. He is a recipient of the scholarship of the Minister of Science and Higher Education for outstanding young scientists and the 2023 Scientific Award presented by Polityka, major Polish weekly socio-political magazine.


Konrad Maj
Konrad Maj
Ph.D. / Assistant Professor

Konrad Maj is the Head of the HumanTech Center, Head of the HumanTech Meetings project, and an assistant professor at the Department of Social Psychology of SWPS University's Faculty of Psychology in Warsaw. His research interests focus on the social and psychological aspects of new technologies, with particular emphasis on artificial intelligence (AI), metaverse, and robotics. He also conducts research in the field of Human-Robot Interaction (HRI). He is a member of the Metaversum Committee within the Digital Poland Association and the Expert Team on Technology and Democracy of the Batory Foundation. He was recognized as one of the 25 top alumni of the 25th Jubilee of SWPS University. In 2023, the Polish Ministry of Science and Higher Education awarded him the title "Popularizer of Science."

Sonia Ziemba-Domańska
Sonia Ziemba-Domańska

Sonia Ziemba-Domańska is an accomplished psychologist, neuropsychologist, and integrative psychotherapist currently pursuing IPZ PSP certification. She is also an academic psychologist at the Polish-Japanese Academy of Information Technology and a lecturer at the Faculty of New Media Arts. Sonia specializes in various therapeutic techniques such as Biofeedback therapy, TSR, TPT, XRTherapy, TUS, and TKZ. Sonia is actively involved in implementing behavioral addiction prevention programs. Sonia is a regular contributor to the Polish monthly psychology magazine Sens. She collaborates with the HumanTech Center and has a keen interest in science, development, robot therapy, artificial intelligence, and its applications in psychotherapy. Despite her diverse interests, her primary focus remains on understanding human behavior. Sonia is the author of the hybrid love theory and has developed a unique method of working with patients based on lowering brainwave frequency. Beyond her professional pursuits, Sonia is an avid marathon runner and CrossFit enthusiast.

The panel will be hosted by

Krzysztof Walas
Krysztof Walas

Krzysztof Walas holds a master's degree in automation and robotics from Poznan University of Technology (PUT), where he later obtained his Ph.D. in robotics, with honors, in 2012. He earned the degree for his thesis on legged robot locomotion in structured environments earned him the prestigious degree. Afterward, he completed his postdoctoral research at the Intelligent Robotics Laboratory of the University of Birmingham's School of Computer Science. Currently, he leads the robotics team at IDEAS-NCBR and is an assistant professor at PUT's Institute of Robotics and Machine Intelligence. His research interests mainly focus on robotic perception for physical interaction, specifically on walking and grasping tasks. He received a LEADER grant from the National Center for Research and Development in Poland. He was the Principal Investigator for the Horizon 2020 THING project on subterranean-legged locomotion. He is currently working on deformable object manipulation as the Principal Investigator of the Horizon 2020 REMODEL project.

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Date and location

Februrary 1, 2024 (Thursday), 17:00–20:00 CET (UTC+1)


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In 2021, the HumanTech Meetings project was granted an additional PLN 250,000 (EUR 52 828,75) by the Ministry of Education and Science (MEiN), as part of the funding scheme “Społeczna odpowiedzialność nauki – Popularyzacja nauki i promocja sportu” (Social responsibility of science – Popularization of science and sport), (project no. SONP/SN/514650/2021), project duration: 2022-2023, total value: PLN 305,472 (EUR 65 251,67).


HumanTech Summit 2023

HumanTech Summit 2023

December 09 2023

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