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  • Minding the Gaps (discussion paper)

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Mind the gaps!: EU and the makings of robot autonomy (discussion paper)

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Abstract

This paper explores the entanglement of visions, politics and innovation policy development with recent developments in robotics. We explore the orientations to purpose and direction with which innovations in robotics are encouraged. We explore the discrepancies between machines as reality and machines as fiction, in particular the vision of robot autonomy as fundamental to future developments with the particular aim to help solve Europe's societal problems. We argue that these complex entanglements are riddled with contradictions and 'gaps' to be minded, i.e., between industry and academic research, between technologists, ELS scholarship, policy and society at large and, last but not least, between machines of today and tomorrow. We argue that the political and policy landscape that encourages these innovation practices and cultivates imaginaries of robot autonomy is misguided (or mistaken) in its purpose-driven agenda which can only exacerbate existing contradictions. Rather, what is at stake is a level-headed politics of uncertainty to deliver a robotics agenda for a societal good that meets the criteria of responsible innovation.