Boston Dynamics AI Institute Launches Ethics Research Initiative for Robots, AI

Dr. Kate Darling has joined the institute to lead a new team focused on the societal impact of robotics and AI.

The AI Institute

Boston Dynamics' Marc Raibert (left) with new AI Institute research team leader Kate Darling (right).
The AI Institute, founded by Hyundai and Boston Dynamics, has launched a research team to explore societal questions around robotics and artificial intelligence.

Boston Dynamics' AI Institute today announced that it has hired Dr. Kate Darling to lead its study of ethics and societal impact in relation to robotics and artificial intelligence. In this role, she will lead a team of researchers to explore key societal questions related to the development of intelligent machines.

“All new technologies offer opportunities and risks,” said Marc Raibert, executive director of The AI Institute, in a release. “Our goal in establishing the ethics team at the Institute is to maximize the opportunities that robotics and AI can offer, while minimizing the risks.”

“We are excited to have Kate join our team and to bring her unique style of research and her community of researchers to help us explore and understand these important issues.”

AI Institute aims to solve fundamental problems

“The rapid advance of robotics and AI has created challenges with regard to public perception, technical literacy, government policy, and media coverage,” said Boston Dynamics. “Scientific data are needed to ground conversations, as well as guide development of the technology.”

“The AI Institute aims to solve the most important and fundamental problems in robotics and AI,” it added.

The Cambridge, Mass.-based research organization said it brings together top talent in robotics, AI, machine learning, computer science, and engineering with the goal of developing future generations of intelligent machines.

The AI Institute works in four core areas of research: cognitive AI, athletic AI, organic hardware design, and ethics and society. The institute claimed that its culture is designed to combine the best features of university research labs with those of corporate development labs.

“Our goal is to create the ‘Bell Labs of robotics and AI,” it said.

Darling to apply expertise with new team

Darling is a leading expert in technology, ethics, and policy and joins the Institute from the MIT Media Lab. She said her work there over the past decade has focused on anticipating difficult questions that lawmakers, engineers, and the wider public need to address.

With a background in law and economics, Darling is a former fellow at the Harvard Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society and the Yale Information Society Project. She is also an affiliate at the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies.

The AI Institute said Darling’s team will explore immediate as well as long-term questions on the implementation and use of robots, their impact on the workplace, infrastructure, and other topics. It will perform studies and experiments to generate data needed for informed ethics and policy decisions.

The team will also develop a series of talks and workshops at the intersection of ethics, law, economics, and robotics to offer a platform for broad discussion.

The ethics and society team is now hiring social scientists.

Robots are dumb but getting smarter, said Boston Dynamics AI Institute Executive Director Marc Raibert.

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The AI Institute

Boston Dynamics' Marc Raibert (left) with new AI Institute research team leader Kate Darling (right).

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