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Robots: hopes and fears

Special Events

Key info...

This event is no longer running

Set aside: 1 hour 15 minutes
 Age restriction: 16+
Discussion (16+) £3.00 Adult (18+) discussion & exhibition visit £13.50 Concession discussion & exhibition visit £10.70 Child (16+) discussion & exhibition visit £8.60
Set aside: 1 hour 15 minutes
 Age restriction: 16+
Event details

Will robots ultimately change our lives for better or for worse?

There are many ways in which robots could improve healthcare and wellbeing: robotic surgeons are already being used in highly intricate operations, including to treat patients with pancreatic and kidney cancer; in our aging society, robots could help to care for the elderly with humanoid carers; while the many people who are unable to drive for health reasons could find greater independence thanks to driverless cars.

In all of these examples, however, there are concerns that tasks once performed by a human could be taken over by a robot. Should we fear that robots will steal our jobs? 

There are also many ethical issues to consider, including whether society is comfortable with replacing human interaction with robotic efficiency in caring roles. In the case of driverless vehicles, who will be responsible for writing the rule book on which situations a pre-programmed car will act to risk the life of its passenger to avoid harming pedestrians?

With all technology there is always the potential for misuse. Advances in artificial intelligence (AI) could threaten cyber security and autonomous weapons could end up being used in warfare. Some even fear for the survival of humanity, with concerns that AI could surpass human intelligence.

What are your hopes and fears for a future in which robots play an ever more prevalent role in society? Join us for a lively discussion on the subject with our panel of experts.


  • Chair: The Right Honourable Viscount Ridley – a distinguished author and science journalist and Honorary President of Life.
  • Professor Alan Winfield – co-founder of the Bristol Robotics Laboratory and believed to be the only Professor of Robot Ethics in the world.
  • Dr Sabine Hauert – Assistant Professor in robotics at the University of Bristol, where her research focusses on designing robotic swarms – and yes, she can give you an expert opinion on the episode of Black Mirror about swarms of autonomous drone bees!
  • Professor Naeem Soomro – Director of Robotics for the Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Consultant Urologist at the Freeman Hospital and Professor of Urology at Newcastle University. And if that wasn’t enough to keep him busy, he is engaging with government organisations on the ethics of robotics and working to produce a regulatory framework for wider adoption of robotic surgery in the UK.
  • Claire Fox – Director and founder of the Academy of Ideas and author of I Find that Offensive! She is a media commentator and is a regular panellist on BBC Radio 4’s Moral Maze and Sky News’ paper review. 

Part of Life’s Robots – then and now season.

Please note, if you purchase a ‘discussion and exhibition’ ticket, this is only valid for a visit to the Robots – then and now exhibition from 10.00am – 6.30pm on 1 November 2018.
Terms & Conditions

Please use the Meetings and Events main entrance on Central Parkway. Parking is available nearby at Times Square Car Park. Postcode for Sat Nav: NE4 7AD.

Thursday 1 November 2018

Discussion start time: 6.30pm. End time: 7.45pm

If you have chosen to visit the exhibition (additional charges apply) before the discussion, please arrive to the main Science Centre entrance before 5pm. Access to the exhibition is available between 10.00am - 6.30pm on the day of the event only.

Age Suitability: 16+

Sorry but late comers may not be admitted.

Your use of and purchase of tickets is governed by the Terms and Conditions as set out on the Life website.

It is your responsibility to check, prior to purchase, that the information you have supplied to us in respect of your online ticket requirements is accurate. We are only responsible for issuing online tickets in accordance with the information you provide. Once purchased, the date for which your ticket has been purchased cannot be changed. Payments for tickets are non-refundable. Tickets are only valid for the date stated upon them. 

On arrival at Life, the following will be required:

  • Appropriate proof of entitlement to any discounted ticket rate claimed (such as NUS card or annual membership card) for each person to be admitted under the ticket. You may be asked to pay the full admission price or refused entry in the instance of proof not being available.
  • The name and booking reference number (provided at the time of purchase).

No online ticket may be resold without the prior written consent of Life. If any person attempts to enter Life with a ticket that has been resold without Life’s written consent, Life may refuse entry and no compensation is payable to that person by Life.

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Robots: hopes and fears
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