Attending RO-MAN 2015, Kobe, Japan


This year’s RO-MAN conference took place in Kobe, Japan. I felt very excited about this trip, because when else would one get the opportunity to travel to such an interesting country in the far, far East of the world. And an interesting country it was! The acceptance rate at RO-MAN this year was extremely high (84%), which resulted in 4 parallel sessions, and, I believe, had an effect on the overall quality of the research presented.

On the first day, I attended the workshop “From temporal interactions to sustainable relationships”, which included some very interesting talks. I especially liked the talk from Masashi Kasaki entiteled “Philosophical reflections on trustworthy machines: What is it to trust machines?”. In his talk, he provided an overview of trust in philosophy and related these analyses to trustworthy machines. In addition, he discussed what moral ramifications can enhance the trustworthiness of machines in a future robot society.

During the main conference, there were 2 talks that stayed in my memory. The first one was presented by Christoph Bartneck “Meta-analysis of the usage of the Godspeed questionnaire series”.  It stroke me that, due to the poor way of analyses and reporting results in the HRI community, it was impossible to perform a proper meta-analysis. This means that we, as a research community, cannot build upon each others findings. This actually inspired me to write a paper on what is “wrong” with current HRI research and how we can improve our research methods, data-analyses and way of reporting our results.

The second talk that inspired me was the one by Bertam Malle “When will people regard robots as morally competent social partners?”. In his talk, he offered clear guidelines for social moral behavior for robots and discussed what elements of moral competence robots need for people to treat that robot as a moral agent.