Machine Ethics in the Context of Medical and Care Agents (MEMCA-2014)

April 3, 2014 - April 4, 2014
Goldsmiths, University of London

London SE14 6NW
United Kingdom

View the Call For Papers

Topic areas

Talks at this conference

Add a talk


Machine Ethics in the Context of Medical and Care Agents (MEMCA-2014)
To be held at: AISB-50, Goldsmiths, University of London, SE14 6NW, UK
Symposium dates:  Thursday 3 and Friday 4 April 2014. 
AISB Convention dates:  1 - 4 April 2014.  

This Symposium on Machine Ethics in the Context of Medical and Care Agents is part of the AISB-50 Annual Convention 2014 to be held at Goldsmiths, University of London, April 1-4, 2014 (detailed Convention programme tba). See    



One important group of application areas for AI and robotics concerns Medical and Care Agents (MCAs) - that is artificial agents designed to work alongside or instead of, humans dealing with treatment and care for people in hospitals, care homes and private homes and so on.  These are areas involving working in close proximity to people, often the most vulnerable members of the population.  MCAs will be fulfilling functions that routinely require interactive and affective sensitivity, practical knowledge of a range of rules of professional conduct, and general ethical insight, autonomy and responsibility.  Their care functions will be delivered to people in fragile states of health, or who have physical or cognitive disabilities of various kinds, who are very young or very old, etc.  MCAs may be required to be, or looked on as, ethical agents, in a rich sense of the term.  However, it is a matter of debate as to when it will be appropriate to make them shoulder, or share, moral blame or credit for outcomes resulting from their actions.   

Contributions are invited from a range of disciplines, including:

--- designers and developers of such agents;
--- those concerned with the deployment of MCAs in health or care situations;
--- those concerned with the broader social implications of MCAs and related technologies'
--- psychologists
--- roboticists, HRI specialists;
--- philosophers,



--- Theoretical issues in Machine Ethics/Ethics of Robotics, concerning MCAs
--- Practical issues in Machine/Robot Ethics, concerning health and social care 
--- The nature, scope and limitations of MCAs: immediate, medium and long-term issues.
--- Architectures and other design issues for MCAs
--- Ethical autonomy and direct responsibility in MCAs: Meaning of ‘autonomy’, etc.;  to what extent possible? how far ethically advisable?
--- Physical versus virtual MCAs.
--- Ethical training for MCAs
--- MCAs as ethical advisers or trainers of humans.
--- Professional ethics issues relating to MCAs:  e.g. informed consent, privacy, autonomy, dignity of care recipients; health and safety issues;
--- Human/MCA interaction issues:  e.g.

  • ‘seniority’ in artificial agents vis-à-vis junior staff;
  • trust and authority;
  • patient acceptance/rejection;
  • levels of acceptance by professional personnel;
  • appropriate policies for professional bodies, funding bodies, commissioning authorities, etc.;

--- Long term impacts on society of proliferating artificial agents operating in close contact to humans;
--- MCAs and appearance:

  • humanoid versus other incarnations;
  • humanoid characteristics in physical body-plan;
  • facial characteristics; voice production, etc.

--- Economic pressures on the deployment of MCAs
--- Impact on the care of people with high levels of need and vulnerability;
--- Empathy, consciousness and ethical understanding in MCAs;
--- Attribution of ethical status, moral responsibility to MCAs.

Symposium Organizing Committee:

--- Steve Torrance, School of Engineering and Informatics, University of Sussex, Brighton UK.  [email protected]   (Symposium co-chair)

--- Mark Coeckelbergh, Department of Philosophy, University of Twente, The Netherlands.  [email protected]   (Symposium co-chair)

--- Johnny Soraker, Department of Philosophy, University of Twente, The Netherlands.  [email protected]

--- Blay Whitby, Brighton and Sussex Medical School, Brighton UK.  [email protected]

--- Aimée van Wynsberghe, Department of Philosophy, University of Twente, The Netherlands.   [email protected]


PROGRAMME COMMITTEE (other names may be added):

Michael Anderson (Hartford, CT, USA) ; Ron Chrisley (Sussex, UK); Kerstin Dautenhahn (Hertfordshire, UK); David Gunkel (N. Illinois, USA); Patrick Lin (California Poly, USA); Amanda Sharkey (Sheffield, UK); Noel Sharkey (Sheffield, UK); John Sullins (Sonoma State, CA, USA); Shannon Vallor (Santa Clara, CA, USA); Wendell Wallach (Yale, CT, USA)

Supporting material

Add supporting material (slides, programs, etc.)




Who is attending?

No one has said they will attend yet.

Will you attend this event?

Let us know so we can notify you of any change of plan.