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The AI Institute, an organization that aims to solve the most important and fundamental problems in robotics and AI, hired Dr. Kate Darling to lead its study of ethics and societal impact. In this role, Darling will lead a team of researchers to explore key societal questions related to the development of intelligent machines.
The rapid advance of robotics and AI has created challenges with regard to public perception, technical literacy, government policy and media coverage. Scientific data are needed to ground conversations, as well as guide the development of the technology. Darling’s team will explore immediate as well as long-term questions on the implementation and use of robotics, impact on the workplace, infrastructure and other topics. The team will perform studies and experiments designed to generate data needed for others to make informed ethics and policy decisions, and will also develop a series of talks and workshops at the intersection of ethics, law, economics and robotics that will offer a platform for broad discussion.
“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,” said Marc Raibert, executive director of The AI Institute. “We are excited to have Kate join our team and to bring her unique style of research and her community of researchers to help us explore and understand these important issues.”
Darling is a leading expert in technology, ethics, and policy and joins the Institute from the MIT Media Lab, where her work over the past decade focused on anticipating difficult questions that lawmakers, engineers and the wider public need to address. With a background in law and economics, Darling is a former fellow at the Harvard Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society and the Yale Information Society Project, and is an affiliate at the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies.
The ethics & society team is now hiring social scientists.
Hyundai Motor Group launched the Boston Dynamics AI Institute in May 2022. Its goal is to be the “Bell Labs of Robotics and AI.” The institute will work on four technical areas: Cognitive AI, Athletic AI, Organic hardware design and Ethics.
Al Rizzi will serve as the institute’s chief technology officer. Rizzi has 25-plus years of experience building dynamic robots, including nearly 17 years as the chief scientist at Boston Dynamics. At Boston Dynamics, Rizzi directed research targeted at novel locomotion and mobile manipulation systems, including LittleDog, BigDog, WildCat, SandFlea and Spot.
Boston Dynamics is best known for its innovative robots. Spot and Stretch are available for commercial purchase, while BigDog has been retired and Atlas continues to be used internally at Boston Dynamics for R&D purposes.
Hyundai acquired Boston Dynamics in June 2021, purchasing an 80% stake in the company from Softbank for about $880 million. Hyundai became the third owner of Boston Dynamics in seven years. It was acquired by Google in 2013 and sold to Softbank Group in 2017. It has mainly operated as an R&D organization since it was founded, but a new emphasis on commercialization was evident after it was acquired by Softbank.
Raibert keynoted the 2023 Robotics Summit & Expo, where he discussed a variety of things, including the future of robotics and the role he wants the AI Institute to play. You can listen to that keynote in podcast form below starting at the 33:19 mark.