Aimee van Wynsberghe

Assistant Professor of Ethics and Robots
Foundation for Responsible RoboticsTechnical University of Delft

Photo and Bio

Short Bio
Aimee van Wynsberghe has been working in ICT and robotics since 2004. She began her career as part of a research team working with surgical robots in Canada at CSTAR (Canadian Surgical Technologies and Advance Robotics). She is Assistant Professor in Ethics and Technology at TU Delft in the Netherlands. She is co-founder and co-director of the Foundation for Responsible Robotics, on the board of the Institute for Accountability in a Digital Age, and an advisory board member for the AI & Intelligent Automation Network. She is a 2018 L’Oreal Unesco ‘For Women in Science‘ laureate. Aimee also serves as a member of the European Commission’s High-Level Expert Group on AI and is a founding board member of the Netherlands AI Alliance. Aimee has been named one of the Netherlands top 400 influential women under 38 by VIVA and was named one of the 25 ‘women in robotics you need to know about’. She is author of the book Healthcare Robots: Ethics, Design, and Implementation and has been awarded an NWO personal research grant to study how we can responsibly design service robots. She has been interviewed by BBC, Quartz, Financial Times, and other International news media on the topic of ethics and robots, and is often invited to speak at International conferences and summits.

Upcoming Events

23 Nov 2018: AMS Phoenix Conference (Toronto, Canada)

Aimee will give a keynote on “Ethics, Healthcare, and Robotics” for the AMS Phoenix Conference.

12 Dec 2018: PWC Robotics in the Boardroom (Amsterdam, NL)

Aimee will give a keynote on robotics and AI in the boardroom.

Appearances

Web Summit 2018

Web Summit 2018

I had a 'fireside chat' with Paul Michelman on stage at Web Summit 2018 in Lisbon, Portugal. We talked about robots as companions, ethics of robotics, and the Foundation for Responsible Robotics' quality mark. Check out the...

Connected Health Conference (Boston, USA)

Connected Health Conference (Boston, USA)

I moderated the panel "Bots for Socialization and Care Delivery: Exploring the Limits of Bot-Human Interaction" with Casey Bennett of CVS Health, Cory Kidd of Catalia Health, Phil Marshall of Conversa, and Ned Semonite of Ohmni Labs. I also served on the panel "The...

Launch of the Netherlands AI Alliance (ALLAI)

Launch of the Netherlands AI Alliance (ALLAI)

Today at the World AI Summit in Amsterdam I launched (together with Catelijne Muller and Virginia Dignum) the Netherlands AI Alliance. From the website: Artificial Intelligence (AI) has the potential to have significant advantages for society. As with every disruptive...

Women in STEAM Event (Leiden, NL)

Women in STEAM Event (Leiden, NL)

Today I gave a keynote lecture on ethics inspired robotics and artificial intelligence for the Women in STEAM event in Leiden.

Media

Quoted in Scientific American

I am quoted as being skeptical of the Nature study regarding people's preferences for autonomous cars. The study really only uses autonomous cars to reveal previously known human biases. The study should say nothing about how we develop autonomous cars. Check out the...

Brainstorm Magazine (print and web) Interview & Article

The article "Brave new world: Dr Aimee van Wynsberghe straddles the worlds of science and ethics, and is shaping the conversations of both." has just been posted online. It is also available in the print magazine. From the article: [Dr. van Wynsberghe] reckons that...

Interview with NOS

I was interviewed by NOS (Dutch) for an article on sex robots. You can find the article here.

Appointed to the EU High Level Expert Group on AI

I have been appointed as one of 52 experts for the European Commission's High Level Expert Group on Artificial Intelligence. The High-Level Expert Group on Artificial Intelligence (AI HLG) will have as a general objective to support the implementation of the European...

Interview with AIIA

I was interviewed by Seth Adler at the Artificial Intelligence & Intelligent Automation Network recently. The article and (partial) transcript can be found here. This will be a part of an upcoming podcast....

PUBLICATIONS

Notable Selection

Peer-Reviewed Journal Publications

H-Index: 12

Citations

Critiquing the Reasons for Making Artificial Moral Agents (2018)
Author(s): Aimee Van Wynsberghe, Scott Robbins Link: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11948-018-0030-8 Abstract Many industry leaders and academics from the field of machine ethics would have us believe that the inevitability of robots coming to have a larger role in our lives demands that robots be endowed with moral reasoning capabilities. Robots endowed in this way may be referred to as artificial moral agents (AMA). Reasons often given for developing AMAs are: the prevention of harm, the necessity for public trust, the prevention of immoral use, such machines are better moral reasoners than humans, and building these machines would lead to a better understanding of human morality. Although some scholars have challenged the very initiative to develop AMAs, what is currently missing from the debate is a closer examination of the reasons offered by machine ethicists to justify the development of AMAs. This closer examination is especially needed because of the amount of funding currently being allocated to the development of AMAs (from funders like Elon Musk) coupled with the amount of attention researchers and industry leaders receive in the media for their efforts in this direction. The stakes in this debate are high because moral robots would make demands on society; answers to a host of pending questions about what counts as an AMA and whether they are morally responsible for their behavior or not. This paper shifts the burden of proof back to the machine ethicists demanding that they give good reasons to build AMAs. The paper argues that until this is done, the development of commercially available AMAs should not proceed further. Citation van Wynsberghe, A. & Robbins. S. 2018. Critiquing the Reasons for Making Artificial Moral Agents. Science and Engineering Ethics. Online First. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11948-018-0030-8    
The Dawning of the Ethics of Environmental Robots (2017)
        Author(s): Aimee Van Wynsberghe, Justin Donhauser Link: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11948-017-9990-3 Abstract Environmental scientists and engineers have been exploring research and monitoring applications of robotics, as well as exploring ways of integrating robotics into ecosystems to aid in responses to accelerating environmental, climatic, and biodiversity changes. These emerging applications of robots and other autonomous technologies present novel ethical and practical challenges. Yet, the critical applications of robots for environmental research, engineering, protection and remediation have received next to no attention in the ethics of robotics literature to date. This paper seeks to fill that void, and promote the study of environmental robotics. It provides key resources for further critical examination of the issues environmental robots present by explaining and differentiating the sorts of environmental robotics that exist to date and identifying unique conceptual, ethical, and practical issues they present. Citation Wynsberghe, A. van, & Donhauser, J. (2017). The Dawning of the Ethics of Environmental Robots. Science and Engineering Ethics, 1–24. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11948-017-9990-3  
Service Robots, Ethics, and Design (2016)
  Author(s): Aimee Van Wynsberghe Link: http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10676-016-9409-x   Abstract It should not be a surprise in the near future to encounter either a personal or a professional service robot in our homes and/or our work places: according to the International Federation for Robots, there will be approx 35 million service robots at work by 2018. Given that individuals will interact and even cooperate with these service robots, their design and development demand ethical attention. With this in mind I suggest the use of an approach for incorporating ethics into the design process of robots known as Care Centered Value Sensitive Design (CCVSD). Although this approach was originally and intentionally designed for the healthcare domain, the aim of this paper is to present a preliminary study of how personal and professional service robots might also be evaluated using the CCVSD approach. The normative foundations for CCVSD come from its reliance on the care ethics tradition and in particular the use of care practices for: (1) structuring the analysis and, (2) determining the values of ethical import. To apply CCVSD outside of healthcare one must show that the robot has been integrated into a care practice. Accordingly, the practice into which the robot is to be used must be assessed and shown to meet the conditions of a care practice. By investigating the foundations of the approach I hope to show why it may be applicable for service robots and further to give examples of current robot prototypes that can and cannot be evaluated using CCVSD. Citation van Wynsberghe, A. (2016). Service robots, care ethics, and design. Ethics and Information Technology, 1-11.
Designing robots for care: Care centered value-sensitive design (2013)
Authors: Aimee Van Wynsberghe Link: http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11948-011-9343-6#/page-1     Abstract The prospective robots in healthcare intended to be included within the conclave of the nurse-patient relationship—what I refer to as care robots—require rigorous ethical reflection to ensure their design and introduction do not impede the promotion of values and the dignity of patients at such a vulnerable and sensitive time in their lives. The ethical evaluation of care robots requires insight into the values at stake in the healthcare tradition. What’s more, given the stage of their development and lack of standards provided by the International Organization for Standardization to guide their development, ethics ought to be included into the design process of such robots. The manner in which this may be accomplished, as presented here, uses the blueprint of the Value-sensitive design approach as a means for creating a framework tailored to care contexts. Using care values as the foundational values to be integrated into a technology and using the elements in care, from the care ethics perspective, as the normative criteria, the resulting approach may be referred to as care centered value-sensitive design. The framework proposed here allows for the ethical evaluation of care robots both retrospectively and prospectively. By evaluating care robots in this way, we may ultimately ask what kind of care we, as a society, want to provide in the future. Citation van Wynsberghe, A. (2013). Designing robots for care: Care centered value-sensitive design. Science and engineering ethics, 19(2), 407-433.
Ethicist as Designer: a pragmatic approach to ethics in the lab (2014)
  Authors: Aimee Van Wynsberghe, Scott Robbins Link: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11948-013-9498-4       Abstract The prospective robots in healthcare intended to be included within the conclave of the nurse-patient relationship—what I refer to as care robots—require rigorous ethical reflection to ensure their design and introduction do not impede the promotion of values and the dignity of patients at such a vulnerable and sensitive time in their lives. The ethical evaluation of care robots requires insight into the values at stake in the healthcare tradition. What’s more, given the stage of their development and lack of standards provided by the International Organization for Standardization to guide their development, ethics ought to be included into the design process of such robots. The manner in which this may be accomplished, as presented here, uses the blueprint of the Value-sensitive design approach as a means for creating a framework tailored to care contexts. Using care values as the foundational values to be integrated into a technology and using the elements in care, from the care ethics perspective, as the normative criteria, the resulting approach may be referred to as care centered value-sensitive design. The framework proposed here allows for the ethical evaluation of care robots both retrospectively and prospectively. By evaluating care robots in this way, we may ultimately ask what kind of care we, as a society, want to provide in the future. Citation van Wynsberghe, A., & Robbins, S. (2014). Ethicist as Designer: a pragmatic approach to ethics in the lab. Science and engineering ethics, 20(4), 947-961.    
Book: Healthcare Robots (Ashgate, 2015)
aimeeBookSmallLink: https://www.routledge.com/products/isbn/9781472444332 Citation: van Wynsberghe, A. (2015). Healthcare robots: ethics, design and implementation. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd.         ’This is a tour de force from one of a new breed of researchers concerned with the societal and ethical issues created by new technologies. Wynsberghe highlights many of the problems with the accelerating use of robotics for elder care and brilliantly points the way forward through value sensitive design. This is a must read, not only for those working in robotics but also for those interested in the future and practice of care.’ Noel Sharkey, University of Sheffield, UK
Telesurgery: An Ethical Appraisal (2008)
Authors: Aimee van Wynsberghe and Chris Gastmans Link: http://jme.bmj.com/content/34/10/e22.short      Abstract The aim of this article is to provide a preliminary ethical evaluation of the effect of telesurgery (long distance, remote surgery) on patient care. In order to accomplish this task we give a broad description of the state of the art in telesurgery and analyse it using Joan Tronto’s articulation of care as a structured process. This structure illuminates the significance of the patient-physician relationship as the buttress for establishing and preserving practices of care in the healthcare context, with the ultimate goal of safeguarding patient dignity. The process of care combined with the moral aim of medicine—to fulfil the good of the patient—provides the ethical foundation for assessing telesurgery. By exploring various telesurgical scenarios we may assess its potential role in augmenting or diminishing patient care within the frame of the patient-physician relationship. The significance of conducting this evaluation lies in the fact that the practice of telesurgery may very shortly become routine and an evaluation has not yet been attempted. Citation van Wynsberghe, A., & Gastmans, C. (2008). Telesurgery: an ethical appraisal. Journal of Medical Ethics, 34(10), e22-e22.