Robotics and UN Sustainable Development
By Ricardo Vinuesa  |  May 17, 2022
Robotics and UN Sustainable Development
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Prof Ricardo Vinuesa reports on last year’s IEEE/Robotics Society of Japan International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems Workshop in Prague, whose main topic was the growing impact of robotics on everyone and opportunities in the context of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

STOCKHOLM - The first important aspect of the discussion in the IEEE/Robotics Society of Japan International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems Workshop was the division of experts into three main areas within the SDGs (Society & Economy, Environment and Governance). This was an interesting distribution compared with other similar studies in the literature, where society and economy are treated separately, and governance is not independently considered. 

The main reason to assign a full category to governance is the crucial relevance of this aspect in the context of robotics solutions, where being able to properly regulate the technology and deploy it with sufficient social acceptance are of utmost importance. In this regard, it is essential to highlight that any data-driven technology aimed at societal aspects needs to incorporate a thoroughly assessed communication strategy to ensure public acceptance. Data-driven models with a focus on SDG applications, which may have an important impact of people’s lives, need to be transparent and interpretable. Furthermore, an adequate mechanism for contesting any unclear decision needs to be in place too. This is the only way to ensure accountability of the regulatory bodies deploying these technologies.

Despite the numerous narratives becoming increasingly popular in many environments indicating otherwise, robots have the potential to significantly help SDG 8 - economic growth - by replacing humans in monotonous or dangerous jobs/tasks. Much evidence has been reported of the

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