Boston Dynamics’ AI Institute, a prominent research organization specializing in robotics and artificial intelligence, has announced the appointment of Dr. Kate Darling as the head of its Ethics and Society research team. In her new role, Dr. Darling will spearhead a group of researchers dedicated to exploring the ethical and societal implications of robotics and AI. This strategic move aligns with the institute’s mission to maximize the benefits of intelligent machines while mitigating associated risks.
Balancing opportunities and risks
Marc Raibert, the executive director of Boston Dynamics’ AI Institute, emphasized the importance of addressing the ethical dimensions of AI and robotics. He stated, “All new technologies offer opportunities and risks. 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.”
The rapid advancements in robotics and AI have raised critical issues concerning public perception, technical literacy, government policies, and media coverage. Scientific research is essential to provide a solid foundation for discussions and guide the responsible development of these technologies.
Boston Dynamics’ AI Institute, based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, brings together top talent from various fields, including robotics, AI, machine learning, computer science, and engineering. Its primary aim is to pave the way for the next generation of intelligent machines. The institute’s research encompasses four core areas: cognitive AI, athletic AI, organic hardware design, and ethics and society. It aims to combine the strengths of university research labs with the innovation of corporate development labs.
Creating the “Bell Labs of Robotics and AI”
The Boston Dynamics’ AI Institute has set an ambitious goal of becoming the “Bell Labs of robotics and AI.” This aspiration underscores its commitment to pushing the boundaries of knowledge in these fields while fostering a collaborative and innovative environment.
Dr. Kate Darling is a distinguished expert in technology, ethics, and policy. Prior to joining Boston Dynamics’ AI Institute, she had a decade-long tenure at the MIT Media Lab. Her work has focused on anticipating and addressing complex questions that lawmakers, engineers, and the broader public must confront in the era of rapid technological advancement.
With a background in law and economics, Dr. Darling has also served as a fellow at the Harvard Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society and the Yale Information Society Project. Additionally, she holds an affiliation with the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies.
Dr. Darling’s team will undertake a comprehensive exploration of immediate and long-term questions related to the implementation and use of robots. Their research will encompass various aspects, including the impact of robotics on the workplace, infrastructure, and more. Through rigorous studies and experiments, they aim to generate essential data to inform ethical and policy decisions.
In addition to conducting research, the Ethics and Society team, led by Dr. Darling, will organize a series of talks and workshops at the intersection of ethics, law, economics, and robotics. These events will provide a platform for inclusive discussions, allowing experts and the public to engage in meaningful dialogues about the ethical implications of AI and robotics.
The Ethics and Society team at Boston Dynamics’ AI Institute is actively seeking to expand its roster of social scientists. This recruitment effort reflects the institute’s commitment to interdisciplinary collaboration and its recognition of the diverse expertise required to address the multifaceted challenges posed by advanced technologies.