november, 2017

28nov19:0022:00Robots and Society: How to create a safe, fair and productive society using robotics?Dinner Debate19:00 - 22:00


(Tuesday) 19:00 - 22:00


Members' Restaurant, European Parliament, Brussels

Event Details

The purpose of this dinner debate is to reflect on both sides of Robotics, the benefits and possibilities on the one hand and the risks and threats on the other hand. During this dinner debate we aim to achieve a balance between these two sides.

Robotic technology is a very powerful tool, especially with the continuous improvement of the internal Artificial Intelligence algorithms. Robots can help address the UN sustainable development goals (i.e. building infrastructure) and will benefit a lot of people.

However, as a society we should be aware of ‘the winner takes all’ effect and the high concentration of power in the hands of a few. There is an economic risk for regions that “fall behind”. Therefore, strong investments are required in research and tech transfer (e.g. innovation hubs). At the same time, there are risks regarding unethical or evil use of that concentrated power, requiring investment in research of the ethical issues, especially towards test and experiment possibilities (e.g. living labs, field labs) in order to bring this new technology into society.


Knowledge4Innovation Forum in cooperation with TU Delft


Michał Boni, MEP

Lieve Wierinck, MEP

Speakers for this event

  • Heikkilä, Juha

    Heikkilä, Juha

    Head of Unit Robotics and Artificial Intelligencem DG CONNECT

    Dr Juha Heikkilä joined the European Commission in 1998 and currently works in its Directorate-General for Communications Networks, Content and Technology (DG Connect). Since 2014 he has been the Head of the Robotics and Artificial Intelligence unit, which is in charge of the Commission activities in these technologies in their various aspects. The Commission has been funding a multidisciplinary research programme on Cognitive Systems, Robotics and AI for about 13 years, focusing on smarter and more flexible robots and artificial systems. In recent years, the annual budget has been between €70 million and €80 million. At the beginning of the current EU seven-year funding programme, Horizon 2020, a Public-Private Partnership in Robotics was set up, which brings together all the key stakeholders in the area. In this partnership the European Commission will invest up to €700 million via Horizon 2020 in roadmap-based research and innovation in these areas over a seven-year period. Previously, Dr Heikkilä was involved in computational and corpus linguistic research at the University of Helsinki, and he did a PhD in Linguistics at the University of Cambridge.

    Head of Unit Robotics and Artificial Intelligencem DG CONNECT

  • Siewiorek, Robert

    Siewiorek, Robert

    Technology Issues Journalist, Gazeta Wyborcza

    Robert Siewiorek – PhD, literary scholar, journalist, feature writer and science popularizer interested in influence of digital technologies on humanity. An author of many popular science articles and few books. Writes for „Gazeta Wyborcza”.

    Technology Issues Journalist, Gazeta Wyborcza

  • Wisse, Martin

    Wisse, Martin

    Professor, TU Delft

    Dr Martijn Wisse (1976) started a Mechanical Engineering programme at TU Delft in 1994 and has been active in robotics since 2000. He originally worked with humanoid walking robots, for which he was awarded a Veni grant in 2004 after obtaining his PhD. In 2010, he was also awarded a Vidi grant for his research on natural movement in robots. Since 2012, he has been leading the European Factory in a Day consortium, which develops ‘Plug & Work’ robot solutions for the SME sector. He also co-founded two companies: Lacquey, specialist in food-handling robots and robot systems integrator Delft Robotics. Wisse is co-founder of the TU Delft Robotics Institute and is closely involved in regional development activities, such as the establishment of the Robo Service Centre in Delft and the launch of the International Robotics Master Class ‘Robotics for Future Presidents’.

    Professor, TU Delft


Prof. dr. ir. Martin Wisse,
Professor, TU Delft

Juha Heikkilä,
Head of Unit Robotics and Artificial Intelligencem DG CONNECT

Robert Siewiorek,
Technology Issues Journalist, Gazeta Wyborcza