Human-Machine Interaction and Responsibility

Approaches from technological development, psychology, philosophy, social sciences, literature and art studies

MC Dr Celia Spoden


(17.04.23) New technologies including robots and AI are advancing into more and more areas of our everyday lives changing the way we work, educate or communicate. There is a need to understand the ethical, legal and socio-political implications of these new developments. And experts face a need in the broader public for answers to various expectations and concerns.

At the panel discussion on “Human-Machine Interaction and Responsibility” in March 2023, six experts from Germany and Japan discussed key concepts and questions concerning human-machine interaction such as “who is responsible for failures”, “who will be credited for achievements”, “what does it mean to be a human.”

Drawing on perspectives from technological development, psychology, philosophy, social sciences, literature and art studies the discussion put spotlights on the rights and responsibilities of developers, providers and users of new technology.

The panel and the audience emphasized that risks and responsibilities depend on the context and type of interaction between humans and machines. An educational setting in a school room with a social robot or chat bot for example poses different risks – such as data protection issues or psychological wellbeing of the users – than a setting in an operation theater at a clinic. Misinformation with intended or unintended impact on the public opinion need to be considered in the field of media. There could be sever implications in the area of social or national security – making cyber security a priority topic in these times of rapid technological development.

All of these contexts ask for different approaches for accountability, liability and responsibility.

Interesting insights into these aspects were also drawn from art and literature, where science fiction and cyber punk often project possible risks into their dystopian views of the world and future. On the other hand, positive or utopian perceptions of new technological could motivate us to design AI and robots that are beneficial for society.

The digital transformation, robots, AI and their implications for society have been and are key topics for the German Centre for Research and Innovation Tokyo (DWIH Tokyo) and the German Institute for Japanese Studies (DIJ). For further information on the topic and future events, please also visit the DWIH and DIJ homepages or prescribe for the DWIH-Newsletter and DIJ-Newsletter.


  • Dr. Celia Spoden, Senior Researcher, German Institute for Japanese Studies (MC)
  • Dr. Eva Buddeberg, Academic Counsel, Institute of Political Science, Faculty of Social Sciences, Goethe-University Frankfurt (panelist)

Input: AI and responsibility from a legal, philosophical and socio-political perspective
Dr. Eva Buddeberg will present the DFG network on AI and responsibility led by herself and Dr. Fruzsina Molnár-Gábor professor at Heidelberg University. The network discusses problems of attribution of actions in which AI is involved. While in terms of legal theory, the network primarily considers how these issues can be taken into account in legislation and jurisprudence, from a philosophical and socio-political perspective also arises the question of how critical societal co-responsibility can be fulfilled.

  • Dr. Arisa Ema, Associate Professor, Institute for Future Initiatives, The University of Tokyo / Visiting Researcher, RIKEN Center for Advanced Intelligence Project (panelist)

Input: AI Ethics and Responsibilities for Different Types of Human-Machine Interactions
How should we think about the rights and responsibilities of people when people collaborate with machines to perform tasks, such as automated driving with AI assistance and creative works using generative AI? The concept of responsibility and rights will differ when the machine (AI) performs the task mostly and the human gives final approval, and when the AI is used to assist the human. Discussion of AI and responsibility needs to be contextualized.

  • Dr. Friederike Eyssel, Professor, CITEC Center for Cognitive Interaction Technology, Bielefeld University (panelist)

Input: The importance of user-centered HRI
The input will discuss psycho-social challenges and consequences associated with human-robot interaction and the deployment of social robots in everyday life. The contribution will discuss the importance of a user-centered perspective, highlighting the key role of user attitudes for successful uptake.

  • Dr. Jiré Emine Gözen, Professor for Media- and Culturaltheory, Campus Hamburg, University of Europe for Applied Sciences (panelist)

Input: Art and literature as a method of knowledge production on the risks and potentials of AI and Human Machine Interaction
The manifold questions concerning the risks and potentials of Human Machine Interaction and AI have been reflected in art and literature for decades. In the process, social and scientific discourses are taken up and perpetuated. In their perpetuation, they inform general ideas about what is possible or problematic about these technologies. Implicitly, art and literature thus have an impact on scholarly and public discourse and should therefore be understood and considered as a form of knowledge production of their own.

  • Dr. Randy Gomez, Chief Scientist, Honda Research Institute (HRI)

Input: Embodied AI for a Harmonious Society
The advancement of AI and robotics have pushed the adoption of social robots at home, offices and various facilities such as hospitals and nursing homes. Although the field of social robotics has shown progress in developing activities between a robot and human, applications targeting groups and society in general are still lacking. In this forum, we will present a framework of designing social robots to maximize societal impact and share our recent activities in developing intelligent robots as mediators that support connecting people, cultivating better understanding of one another, and fostering good relationships.

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