Responsible Safe and Secure Robotic Systems Engineering (SEEROSE)
The Faculty of Technical Sciences and the Faculty of Humanities at the University of Klagenfurt (AAU) proposed an interdisciplinary Karl Popper Kolleg for the period from 2021-2024, organized by four professors (Security, Software Engineering, Psychology, and Ethics), which was approved by the AAU Rectorate in May 2020. Its title is “Responsible Safe and Secure Robotic Systems Engineering (SEEROSE)”.
Robot ethics demands programmers to write code that is not only functionally correct but also secure and safe to disallow any intended or accidental harm to humans. Hence, programmers bear a responsibility w.r.t. several instances (e.g., system customers, providers, end-users, etc.), for which awareness is required (likewise for questions of liability, which is a complex matter of contemporary research and legislation). SEEROSE aims at achieving usable robotic security by jointly addressing process ethical, psychological, and technical aspects of developing safe and secure robotics systems.
The following figure provides an overview of the four key areas and the main research questions addressed by SEEROSE.
SEEROSE features a Ph.D. project in each key area: The goal of the Ph.D. project DevSafe is to provide techniques and tools to support developers to responsibly develop and evolve safe and secure robotic systems. The goal of the Ph.D. project INBASE-GET is to provide mechanisms for incentivizing developers and robot collaborators to use and follow security precautions out of their own interests. The goal of the Ph.D. project SCoRE is to provide an instrument for the psychological assessment of the core qualifications relevant to robotics engineers. And finally, the goal of the Ph.D. project CERSE is to provide a guideline for the implementation of a process-ethical procedure for distributed assumption of responsibility in safe and secure robotic systems engineering.
The goals of SEEROSE are well aligned with the demands of the recent Vienna Manifesto on Digital Humanism. This initiative calls for “Practitioners everywhere ought to acknowledge their shared responsibility for the impact of information technologies”, and “A vision is needed for new educational curricula, combining knowledge from the humanities, the social sciences, and engineering studies”, and “Students should learn to combine information-technology skills with awareness of the ethical and societal issues at stake.” SEEROSE addresses these demands directly.
Application and selection procedure
The selection of the PhD students is carried out in line with the following procedure:
Potential applicants are required to have a strong background in the core field of the subproject that they wish to apply for (security/economics, software engineering, psychology or ethics), namely:
Quality assurance for robotic systems
Applied and Usable Security
Decision- and Game-theory
Qualitative and Quantitative Methods with a focus on Psychometry
Practical experience with pertinent statistical software
Media and Communications / Philosophy
Ethics and Technology / Robot ethics
Qualitative Research Methods
The final decision will require consent by at least a majority of the professors who agree to be part of the Kolleg (we will aim at achieving unanimous consent by all). We aim at starting the Kolleg at the earliest possibility when all positions are filled, and no later than March 1st, 2021.