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AI-Powered Robots for Libraries: Exploratory Questions


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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.

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AI-Powered Robots for Libraries: Exploratory Questions

  1. 1. AI-Powered Robots for Libraries: Exploratory Questions Bohyun Kim CTO for the Univ. Libraries & Associate Professor, University of Rhode Island, USA IFLA WLIC Satellite Meeting, Berlin, Germany, 
 August 21-22, 2019,
  2. 2. We will discuss… 1. What counts as a ‘Robot’? 2. General concerns about the adoption of robots 3. Robots for libraries
  3. 3. 1. ‘Robot’ Appearance like a human? A physical body? Intelligent / smart? What counts as a robot?
  4. 4. Candidates 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?
  5. 5. A Working Definition “A machine, situated in the world, that senses, thinks, and acts” 
 — 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.
  6. 6. ‘Embodied’ Take in sensory input from the surroundings; process it for a cognitive task; and act upon the physical world. Need sensors; 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.
  7. 7. AI-Powered Robots 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.
  8. 8. Robots & Humans No consciousness, desire, motive, or other mental states Human tendency to anthropomorphize The adoption of robots raises interesting and unique concerns.
  9. 9. 2. General Concerns Safety Morality Human-Robot Relationship & Social Norms Manipulation / Deception
  10. 10. (a) Safety Harming humans either by accident or while trying to achieve its goal? A kill switch & an override option
  11. 11. Levels of Autonomy General AI vs. Weak/Narrow AI ‘human-in-the-loop’ ‘human-on-the-loop’ ‘human-off-the-loop’
  12. 12. Designing a Safe Robot 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
  13. 13. (b) Morality With AI’s decision-making capability, to what use should we put those AI systems & how much control should we allow them to have?
  14. 14. Trolley Problem Once a thought experiment Now an engineering problem Applied to military robots?
  15. 15. Issues & Solutions Machine morality What level of autonomy & ethical sensitivity is a robot equipped with? What level of machine morality would be feasible and appropriate for a given robot? The impact of having robots as another social agent in our world
  16. 16. (c) Human-Robot Relationship Projecting human qualities onto a robot Emotional attachment 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
  17. 17. Intended Use Those who build a robot: 
 What type of relationship is the robot supposed to form with its user for optimal functioning? Robot users: 
 Need to be aware of the fact that a robot may be designed to elicit anthropomorphic projection to perform its function.
  18. 18. (d) Manipulation More robots in a personal environment such as homes and care facilities Playing a social role such as a companion and a caretaker Many will treat them as social agents either consciously or unconsciously.
  19. 19. Abuse/Deception by Robot Manufacturers Charging an exorbitant amount of fee for a care robot’s software upgrade Programming a robot to suggest a purchase to its user Mishandling personal and private information that a user confides to the robot
  20. 20. Issues 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 robot?
  21. 21. 3. Robots for Libraries AuRoSS, a robotic shelf scanning 
 system, Singapore Nao robots - Westport Public Library, USA Finch robots - Chicago Public Library, USA Robot Day - San Diego Public Library, USA
  22. 22. Areas for Robot Adoption Greeting & Directions University of Pretoria, South Africa
 - ‘Libby’ Access Services Reference University of Oklahoma, USA - Alexa Reader's advisory service A reading robot - ‘Luka’
  23. 23. Human-Robot 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?
  24. 24. 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
  25. 25. Guidelines for Library Robots Stricter guidelines for library robots involved in library patrons’ information-seeking activities?
  26. 26. Future 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 questions.
  27. 27. Thank you! @bohyunkim