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Helping to understand ethics in Artificial Intelligence

Meet Pepper, the latest member of the Storm team.

Pepper has joined us from the Department of Computer Science at the University of Bath, for a few weeks. Pepper is currently being used by Dr Joanna Bryson and a team of PhD students to further understand the ethics involved in Artificial Intelligence (AI).

Whilst Pepper is at Storm, we will be testing the boundaries of what it* can do and consulting on this important research, we are very excited by this new project and its future implications in the field of AI. 

What do you mean by ethics in AI?

Award winning academic, Dr Bryson, has been writing about AI and Society since the mid 1990s, and focussing on the ethics behind AI for over 10 years.

After initially attempting to dispel the myth that robots could one day take over the world, she’s since been raising awareness within the industry that the problem lies more with the level of responsibility involved in creating, owning and operating these robots.

She has written papers ranging from how AI is susceptible to human biases and prejudice from human language, robots used in warfare, and the basic principles for the usage and design of robotics.

Why is Storm involved?

Pepper has been lent to the team at Storm so that we can assess its current capabilities and then help develop the University’s proprietary AI software to run on it.  A core part of the work will be the creation of an Android application that can run on the robot’s tablet screen, allowing humans to understand what the machine is thinking.  Pepper will then be fundamental to Dr Bryson’s ongoing research.

Technical Director, Adam Pope, has been appointed the task of working with our new friend. To be honest, we think he’s quite enjoying his temporary work buddy!

“Pepper has a real human-like presence, it really feels like there’s another person in the room when its turned on.  Its ability to recognise your face, make eye contact and follow you around the room is quite unnerving.  They might not be going to take over the world anytime soon, but they are becoming incredibly powerful and we’ll definitely be interacting with robots like Pepper in the near future.”

Welcome to the team, Pepper

Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning is advancing at a rapid rate and already affects our day to day lives. We believe AI will have a massive impact in the future and Dr Bryson’s work is of utmost importance and value.

In the meantime, we’re enjoying the fact that Pepper can recognise each of us and the cheerful welcome we receive whenever we enter the room. That, and its newly programmed disco moves.


*In line with the ethics suggested by Dr Bryson, Pepper should only be referred to as an it – not ‘he’ or ‘she’. We’re probably pushing things by giving it a name too.


Further information on Dr Joanna Bryson’s research