A talk given by Bohyun Kim, CTO for the Univ. Libraries & Associate Professor at University of Rhode Island at the 2019 IFLA WLIC Satellite Meeting, Berlin, Germany, August 21-22, 2019. https://en.th-wildau.de/university/central-facilities/university-library/ifla-wlic-preconference-satellite-meeting/
AI-Powered Robots for Libraries: Exploratory Questions
AI-Powered Robots for
CTO for the Univ. Libraries & Associate Professor,
University of Rhode Island, USA
IFLA WLIC Satellite Meeting, Berlin, Germany,
August 21-22, 2019,
We will discuss…
1. What counts as a ‘Robot’?
2. General concerns about the
adoption of robots
3. Robots for libraries
Appearance like a human?
A physical body?
Intelligent / smart?
What counts as a robot?
Anything that can be programmed to
move, no matter how simple
Software designed to automate tasks
How to distinguish a robot from a
typical machine or software?
“A machine, situated in the world, that senses, thinks,
— from George Bekey, “Current Trends in Robotics:
Technology and Ethics,” in Robot Ethics: The Ethical
and Social Implications of Robotics, eds. Patrick Lin,
Keith Abney, and George Bekey (Cambridge, MA: MIT
Press, 2012), p.18.
Take in sensory input from the
surroundings; process it for a cognitive
task; and act upon the physical world.
Need some cognitive capability to process
the input from the environment and to
determine the response or an action;
Need actuators, which allow it to physically
act upon the environment.
Intelligent and autonomous in
performing not only mechanical but
also cognitive tasks
The capability of AI-powered robots
far exceeds that of other simpler and
less sophisticated machines.
Robots & Humans
No consciousness, desire, motive, or
other mental states
Human tendency to
The adoption of robots raises
interesting and unique concerns.
Human-Robot Relationship & Social
Manipulation / Deception
Harming humans either by accident
or while trying to achieve its goal?
A kill switch & an override option
Levels of Autonomy
General AI vs. Weak/Narrow AI
Designing a Safe
Depends on the specific type of task
that it is supposed to perform & the
risks associated with the given task.
The efficiency and the cost-savings
vs. safety concerns
With AI’s decision-making capability,
to what use should we put those AI
systems & how much control should
we allow them to have?
Once a thought experiment
Now an engineering problem
Applied to military robots?
Issues & Solutions
What level of autonomy & ethical
sensitivity is a robot equipped with?
What level of machine morality would
be feasible and appropriate for a given
The impact of having robots as another
social agent in our world
Projecting human qualities onto a
Can be beneficial if those help to
fulfill the robot’s intended use
Can be harmful to the robot user
and impede its intended function
Those who build a robot:
What type of relationship is the robot
supposed to form with its user for
Need to be aware of the fact that a
robot may be designed to elicit
anthropomorphic projection to
perform its function.
More robots in a personal
environment such as homes and care
Playing a social role such as a
companion and a caretaker
Many will treat them as social agents
either consciously or unconsciously.
Charging an exorbitant amount of
fee for a care robot’s software
Programming a robot to suggest a
purchase to its user
Mishandling personal and private
information that a user confides to
Manipulation and deception through a
robot is particularly pernicious because
it preys on people’s natural inclination
of caring about other social agents.
Is a robot to be treated as a social
agent or a mere tool/thing?
What about the mistreatment of a
3. Robots for
AuRoSS, a robotic shelf scanning
Nao robots - Westport Public Library, USA
Finch robots - Chicago Public Library, USA
Robot Day - San Diego Public Library, USA
Areas for Robot
Greeting & Directions
University of Pretoria, South Africa
University of Oklahoma, USA - Alexa
Reader's advisory service
A reading robot - ‘Luka’
Interactions at Libraries
The role of an assistant and a
companion that help library users
with accomplishing a variety of tasks
Likely to be positive and friendly
How would the previous concerns
apply to library robots?
A Library is …
A safe space mentally and physically
Free/equal access to information to the public
Empowers people through knowledge
Protects people’s intellectual freedom
Helps people exercise their right to pursue
information and knowledge privately without
being monitored or surveilled by a third party
Stricter guidelines for library robots
involved in library patrons’
More sophisticated, versatile, and
autonomous robots at our homes,
workplaces, and libraries.
Neither our society nor the library yet
fully understands how the wide
adoption of robots will affect us.
As a new type of social agent, robots
will generate a lot of interesting