Bias-sensitizing robot behaviours

A quest for Avoiding Harmful Bias and Discrimination by robots (AGAINST-19)

May 24, Half-day workshop at ICRA 2019, Montréal


Human behaviour is subject to a wide range of cognitive biases. The machines and robots we create will naturally inherit many of these biases, as recently brought to light in both the media and academia: through examples such as sexist ad targeting, racist policing, but also robotic ageism, sexism and racism. This workshop focuses on bias-sensitization of robot behaviour on issues such as gender, race, age and culture. Bias-sensitization - a concept brought forward by the field of gender studies - is the modification of behaviour to avoid discrimination and hidden and harmful bias.

The goal of this workshop is to raise awareness of, and provide new insights into, the biases involved in robot design, human-robot interaction and datasets; as well as the techniques which will be required to avoid harmful bias and discrimination by robots. The workshop will provide a venue for Robotics and AI researchers, as well as philosophers, psychologists and cognitive scientists to exchange the lessons learned from state-of-art research in the intersection of diverse fields of studies.

The workshop will be hosted at the 2019 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA 2019).
Location: Room 518c, Palais des congrès de Montréal, Montréal, Canada.
Session: Friday May 24, 13:30-17:30

Call For Abstracts

We invite participants to submit extended abstracts (max 2 pages) related to the workshop's topics of interest. The accepted contributions will be posted on the workshop website but they will not appear in the official IEEE proceedings. Contributors may also request that their manuscripts not appear on the website. The reviewing will be made by the organizers and invited speakers of the workshop. The manuscripts should use the IEEE ICRA two-column format, and a PDF copy of the manuscript should be submitted through the dedicated EasyChair website.

Topics of interest include:

- age/race/gender-biased robots
- feminist theory and robotics (e.g. gender studies in robotics, sex robots, feminist tech)
- culturally competent versus stereotyped robots
- learning from biased datasets in robotics
- fairness and transparency in robotic systems
- ethical robot decision making
- legal issues in robot discrimination
- ethical design and development of robotic systems

Important dates:

Paper submission deadline: April 5, 2019
Author notification: April 19, 2019
Camera-ready submission: May 4, 2019
Workshop date: May 24, 2019


  • Prof. Ayanna Howard

    14h00 - 14h30 Diversity Biases with Socially-Interactive Robots

    Prof. Ayanna Howard @robotsmarts

  • Prof. James E. Young

    14h30 - 15h00 Gender-biased robots (TBC)

    Prof. James E. Young www

  • Dr. Barbara Bruno

    15h30 - 16h00 Stereotypes in culture-aware robotics (TBC)

    Dr. Barbara Bruno

  • Dr. John Danaher

    16h00 - 16h30 Problems of discrimination in artificial intelligence (TBC)

    Dr. John Danaher @JohnDanaher


Time Slot Description
13h30 - 13h40 Welcome (organizers) -
13h40 - 14h00 Martim Brandao Dr. Martim Brandao Oxford University, UK Responsible Robotic Project
14h00 - 14h30 Prof. Ayanna Howard Prof. Ayanna Howard Georgia Institute of Technology, US Diversity Biases with Socially-Interactive Robots
14h30 - 15h00 Prof. James E. Young Prof. James E. Young University of Manitoba Gender-biased robots (TBC)
15h00 - 15h30 Coffee break and poster session -
15h30 - 16h00 Dr. Barbara Bruno Dr. Barbara Bruno University of Genoa, Italy Stereotypes in culture-aware robotics (TBC)
16h00 - 16h30 Dr. John Danaher Dr. John Danaher NUI Galway, Republic of Ireland Problems of discrimination in artificial intelligence (TBC)
16h30 - 17h00 Panel discussion and closing -


  • Masoumeh (Iran) Mansouri (Corresponding organizer)

    Masoumeh (Iran) Mansouri (Corresponding organizer) www

    Centre for Applied Autonomous Sensor Systems (AASS), Cognitive Robotics Lab, Örebro University, Sweden

  • Martim Brandao

    Martim Brandao www

    Oxford Robotics Institute (ORI), University of Oxford, UK

  • Alessandro Saffiotti (Workshop advisor)

    Alessandro Saffiotti (Workshop advisor) www

    Centre for Applied Autonomous Sensor Systems (AASS), Cognitive Robotics Lab, Örebro University, Sweden


This workshop is supported by:

IEEE RAS Technical Committee on Robot Ethics