There is often a tension between the economic needs for increasing technological innovation and the ways in which these innovations may be developed responsibly - that is in a manner that is societally acceptable and desirable.

In the RoboTIPS project we develop an approach that aims to anticipate not only the positive outcomes but also the potentially negative consequences of technological innovations for society. In particular we focus on the domain of social robots.

Social robots are those which interact with people and make decisions about what to do on their own accord.

  • because they make their own decisions in order to perform actions, we need to be able to recover what they did and why they did it, when things seem to go wrong.
  • in the RoboTIPS project we will develop an ethical black box (EBB) through which the social robot will be able to explain its behaviour in simple and understandable ways.
  • we will then test out the EBB in incident investigations as a social process in a variety of contexts.

The development of the Ethical Black Box is an example of Responsible Innovation (RI) in action

  • we develop an agile process which will take account of the views of a wide range of people in a fast-changing context;
  • this process serves to have some influence over the trajectory of an innovation;
  • at the same time we also carry out activities to understand people's lived rights and obligations in relations to social robots and other types of innovation;
  • we will draw together the strands of our research to provide creative resources and methods for designers to develop responsible and accountable new technologies.


If you would like to know more about the study and our ongoing activities, please contact project team researcher Helena Webb helena.webb@cs.ox.ac.uk