Will robots take over? New events to explore how AI will transform our lives

12 Jan 2017

The British Academy today launches a new series of events exploring how robotics and artificial intelligence could revolutionise society.

Advances in robotics and AI are changing how we do business, engage in warfare, and even have relationships. While some people welcome the rise of driverless cars, smart fridges and delivery drones, many worry about the ethics of machines taking on complex roles.

From January to March 2017, free events in London, Bristol and Leicester, organised in partnership with the Royal Society, will examine whether these fears are justified. What might a robotic future look like, and what does this tell us about what it means to be human?

Leading minds from the humanities and social sciences will be joined by experts and pioneers in the fields of robotics and artificial intelligence to discuss questions such as:

  • Are we ready to have relationships with robots, as our care-givers or lovers?
  • Does artificial intelligence threaten society? Will the robots ever take over?
  • Will a robot steal my job? Or can we benefit from robots in the workplace?
  • Do we need new laws and guidelines to govern artificial intelligence?

Professor Patrick Haggard FBA, member of the British Academy’s Robotics, AI and Society steering group said:
“Humans have created and used machines since earliest times, but the autonomy and ability of these machines have recently increased dramatically. There is now a pressing need to understand how robotics and AI will shape our future, and to consider how we can use these developments for the greatest benefit of all.  The British Academy Debates will bring together different disciplines and groups to examine how robots, AI and society will interact in the 21st century.”

The British Academy Debates take place in London (31 January and 22 March), Leicester (21 February) and Bristol (1 March).

Other events in the series include an interactive late event which will investigate whether we are ready for romantic relationships with robots, featuring performances and short talks. The writers of hit Channel 4 show Humans will also be in conversation, discussing artificial intelligence and what they hope fans took away from the latest season.

All events are free to attend, although registration is required. You can see the full events programme at

Contact the press office

For further information contact the Press Office on [email protected]  / 07500 010 432.

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