EVENT SERIES - Plotting the Future: Scenes and Scenarios of Speculation

Led by the UCD Humanities Institute, the UCD Institute for Discovery and the UCD Geary Institute for Public Policy, ‘Plotting the Future’ is a public lecture series and forum for debate that explores the urgent question of what it means to be human in the age of Artificial Intelligence and Robotics.

AI, robotics, autonomous vehicles, drones, 3-D printing, nanotechnology, and biotechnology are revolutionising society. These new technologies are already blurring the lines between the physical, digital, and biological worlds, raising ethical, social and legal concerns. While some commentators celebrate the opportunities of the so-called Fourth Industrial Revolution, others foreground the potentially uncontrollable ramifications of what is arguably an unprecedented transformation of the human world.

Our experts and guest lecturers will discuss the following questions:

  • What are the socio-political, economic and cultural challenges and opportunities of the second machine age?
  • How will it transform the world of work?
  • To what extent will our self-perception as human beings change?
  • How can we safeguard the very notion of self-governance, given the increasing dependence on AI and robotics?
  • Can robotics law protect us from uncontrolled advances in these domains?

Join us as we discuss what the future may look like in thirty years.


Professor Susanne Beck, Professor of Criminal Law and Philosophy of Law, Leibniz University Hanover

Robots and the Law - the Problem of Liability Diffusion

Date: Thursday, 12 October 2017 at 5pm
Venue: Room H.204, UCD Humanities Institute

Susanne Beck is professor of Criminal Law and Law Philosophy at the Leibniz University Hanover since 2013. She has studied and worked in Wuerzburg, London, Sydney and Zhuhai (China), has received her PhD in Wuerzburg on the topic "Criminal Liability for Stem Cell Research in Germany" and also worked on topics such as collectives and criminal law, the rule of law from a postmodern perspective or sanctioning of elderly people. Since 2008 she has been constantly analysing the rapid development in robotics and AI and the consequences for the legal system.


Thursday, 9 November 2017 - Dr Kathleen Richardson, Senior Research Fellow in the Ethics of Robotics, De Montfort University, Leicester

Turning persons into property and property (robots and AI) into persons

Kathleen Richardson is the Director of the Campaign Against Sex Robots and Senior Research Fellow in Ethics of Robotics and part of the Europe-wide DREAM project (Development of Robot-Enhance Therapy for Children with AutisM).

Kathleen completed her PhD at the Department of Anthropology, University of Cambridge. Her fieldwork was an investigation of the making of robots in labs at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. After her PhD Kathleen was a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow (BAPDF), a position she held at the University College London. Kathleen's postdoctoral work was an investigation into the therapeutic uses of robots for children with autism spectrum conditions. In 2013, she was part of the Digital Bridges Project, an innovative AHRC funded technology and arts collaboration between Watford Palace Theatre and the University of Cambridge.

Kathleen is author of An Anthropology of Robots and AI: Annihilation Anxiety and Machines. She is now working on her second manuscript The Robot Intermediary? An Anthropology of Attachment and Robots for Children with Autism.

Monday, 4 December 2017 - Professor Philippe van Parijs, Visiting Professor and Senior Research Fellow, Nuffield College University of Oxford.

Basic Income and The Future of Work

Philippe van Parijs is a guest professor at the Universities of Louvain and Leuven, a Robert Schuman Fellow at the European University Institute and an associate member of Nuffield College, Oxford. He was the founding director of Louvain’s Hoover Chair of Economic and Social Ethics from 1991 to 2016, and a regular visiting professor at Harvard University from 2004 to 2010 and at the University of Oxford from 2011 to 2015. He is a member of Belgium’s Royal Academy of Sciences and a Fellow of the British Academy. He is one of the founders of the Basic Income Earth Network and chairs its International Board. His books include Real Freedom for All. What (if anything) can justify capitalism ? (Oxford U.P. 1995), What’s Wrong with a Free Lunch ? (Beacon Press, 2001),  Linguistic Justice for Europe and for the World (Oxford U.P. 2011), and Basic Income. A radical proposal for a free society and a sane economy (Harvard U.P. 2017, with Y. Vanderborght).



Professor Margaret Boden, OBE FBA Research Professor of Cognitive Science, University of Sussex

AI and the Future

Date: Tuesday, 19 September 2017 at 5pm
Venue: Moore Auditorium, Science Centre East (O'Brien Centre) building

Margaret A. Boden OBE ScD FBA is Research Professor of Cognitive Science at the University of Sussex, where she helped develop the world's first academic programme in cognitive science. She holds degrees in medical sciences, philosophy, and psychology, and integrates these disciplines with AI in her research. She is a Fellow of the British Academy, and of the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (and its British and European equivalents) and has recently been appointed Scientific Advisor to the APPG (All-Party Parliamentary Group) on AI.  She was also a member of the Royal Society’s Policy Committee on “Machine Learning” which published its report Machine Learning: the power and promise of computers that learn by example in April 2017.

Her books include The Creative Mind: Myths and Mechanisms (1990/2004), Mind as Machine: A History of Cognitive Science (2006), and AI, Its Nature and Future (2016).


Dr Mary AikenAdjunct Associate Professor at UCD Geary Institute for Public Policy

The Cyber Effect: Children and Young People in an Age of Artificial Intelligence, Robotics and the Internet

Date: Tuesday, 20 June 2017 at 5pm
Venue: Room B003, Seminar Room, UCD Geary Institute for Public Policy

Dr Mary Aiken is an Adjunct Associate Professor at University College Dublin, Geary Institute for Public Policy, and Academic Advisor (Psychology) to the European Cyber Crime Centre (EC3) at Europol. She is a lecturer in Criminology and Research Fellow at the School of Law, Middlesex University, a Fellow of the Society for Chartered IT Professionals, a Sensemaking Fellow at the IBM Network Science Research Centre, and has served as a Distinguished Professor of the Practice of Cyber Analytics at AIRS. She is a member of the Hague Justice Portal advisory board and Director of the Cyberpsychology Research Network.


Professor Judy Wajcman, Anthony Giddens Professor of Sociology, London School of Economics
Automation, Robotics and the Temporality of Everyday Life

Date: Tuesday, 30 May 2017 at 5pm
Venue: Room H204, UCD Humanities Institute

Judy Wajcman is the Anthony Giddens Professor of Sociology at the London School of Economics, and a Visiting Professor at the Oxford Internet Institute. She has published widely on the gender relations of technology. Her recent books include Pressed for Time: The Acceleration of Life in Digital Capitalism (2015) and The Sociology of Speed: Digital, Organization, and Social Temporalities (2017).