Wed 14 June, 2pm: Silvia De Conca (Tilburg) – There is no place like home, Alexa: Intelligent Robotics, the house, and the protection of the private sphere

We are delighted to announce another discussion group event which will take place on Wednesday 14 June at 2pm in room 9.18 of David Hume Tower. Our speaker is Silvia de Conca, PhD researcher at Tilburg Institute for Law, Technology, and Society.

There is no place like home, Alexa: Intelligent Robotics, the house, and the protection of the private sphere  

Amazon Echo, Google Home, Buddy, Jibo, Cubic: home and personal assistant robots are a new type of service Robots for personal or consumer use. They embed the idea of a digital personal assistant to ease the daily life of individuals or families. To perform, the assistant must know its owners: their voices, their faces, their schedule, their friends. To perform efficiently, the assistant must also understand those information, learn, elaborate them, and extract the habits and tastes of its owners. In other words, the assistant must be provided with (artificial) intelligence. In this version of the future there is no humanoid robot with wheels and arms carrying out chores around the house, like Rosie from The Jetsons. In this version of the future there are decorative desk units which interact with the owners through voice command (“Alexa, play the morning playlist”, or “OK Google, increase the room temperature of…”) and complete their tasks by means of other devices connected to them (in the examples before, a speaker and Google Nest). How will the presence of this new kind of intelligent robots inside the home influence the very concept of private sphere? What role will the household environment play, for the protection and development of the private sphere?

After dissecting the main technological features common to this category of intelligent robots, the speaker will introduce three hypotheses of modalities in which the above mentioned technological features can influence the private sphere: with their ever-scanning presence, with the aggregation of data in the Cloud, and with the conversational interface.

The hypotheses, identified as passive sharing, aggregated privateness and conversational privacy, can deeply influence individual contextualization of what is private, and what belongs to the private sphere. The shift in the perception and definition of the private sphere can in turn influence significantly the implementation of the rules created to protect it. In conclusion, the connection will be traced between the way intelligent robotics in the house affect the very definition of private sphere and possible new criticalities that can be expected in the application of the European GDPR.

The talk will be followed by a Q&A section and refreshments will be provided. All students and staff are welcome and no registration is required.