Social Robots in Social Institutions

The aim of social robotics is to create entities capable of social interaction with humans. This raises questions about the notion of sociality, because our standard notions of sociality presuppose that the participants of interactions are persons, not robots or other artificial agents. In human societies, many forms of social interaction have been institutionalised. They have become social institutions, that is, complex social forms that reproduce themselves, for instance families, governments, legal systems, healthcare services, universities, and business corporations. In general, institutions emerge from social practices that coordinate activities by establishing formal and not merely informal rules, explicitly stating the goals and values they serve, assigning offices and office-dependent entitlements and role-responsibilities to position holders, and managing the material resources necessary for practices. Institutions offer individuals incentives and sanctions to maintain their stability and to serve their goals. They also enable individuals to cooperate and provide a platform to resolve disagreements and conflicts among interests. The central aim of the conference is to understand and to critically evaluate how social robotics is transforming institutional structures, institutional practices, and the institution–citizen interaction for instance in the fields of social and health care, education, science, media, and law.

The societal significance of social robots is a central and urgent question for all social sciences and humanities (SSH) disciplines as social robots are restructuring, reshaping, and moulding central institutions of our societies. In light of institutional design it is of primary importance to understand how the introduction of social robots affects the ability of our institutions to perform their functions in society. We need to know how it affects their rules, incentives for complying with rules, positional hierarchies, distribution of resources, and environmental constraints. We need to pay attention to the ecological and environmental consequences of large-scale use of social robotics and its technological prerequisites such as smart devices, networks, and computing and memory resources. By the same token, introduction and implementation of social robots in the context of central societal institutions raises normative questions having to do with trust in institutions, responsibility allocation, transparency and citizens right to explanation. Furthermore, perhaps primarily from the legal point of view the question concerning whether the introduction of social robots creates a need for novel kinds of regulation in the case of public institutions is worthy of thorough research. As to the development of social robots capable of navigating in the social and institutional reality, it is crucial to enable them to recognize such normative aspects of social institutions as roles, norms, and practices. A question of social ontology concerns whether robots can participate in the collective construction of the social world.

Robophilosophy 2022 will explore these and related questions, with its usual broad scope, embracing both theoretical and practical angles. The event is an invitation to philosophers and other SSH researchers, as well as researchers in social robotics and HRI, to explore in detail, and from interdisciplinarily informed perspectives, how social robotics as an interdisciplinary endeavour can contribute to the ability of our insititutions to perform their functions in society.

Robophilosophy 2022 is the fifth event in the biennial Robophilosophy Conference Series ( which was introduced with the aim of promoting interdisciplinary SSH research in and on social robotics. Robophilosophy is foremost   “philosophy of, for, and by social robotics”,  but it is a new area of interdisciplinary and often experimental research. Thus topically relevant research submissions from any discipline are welcome. The conference is planned to feature art installations, art events and special outreach sessions to communicate to policy makers and the public at large the core message of conference series: only if SSH humanities researchers join forces with the research community and practitioners in social robotics and HRI can we create futures worth living.



Main organizers

Co-organizers from the Research Unit for Robophilosophy, Aarhus University;

Local organization team: 

  • Dane Gogoshin
  • Raul Hakli
  • Tomi Kokkonen
  • Pekka Mäkelä
  • Olli Niinivaara
  • Pii Telakivi

Funded by

Conference time line

  • Submission deadlines for abstracts:
    • January 15, 2022: Submission of workshop descriptions 
    • January 31, 2022: Submission of abstracts for research papers and for posters
  • Notifications:
    • February 15, 2022: Notification on acceptance for workshops 
    • March 15, 2022: Notification on acceptance for research papers and posters
  • Submission of full papers:
    • May 15:  Submission of fully formatted penultimate versions of research papers and workshop descriptions
  • Conference:  August 16-19, 2022    
  • Proceedings:
    • October 1, 2022: Submission of final versions of research papers, workshop descriptions, and poster abstracts
    • December 15, 2022: Publication of RP2022 Proceedings

Conference details

August 16-19, 2022

University of Helsinki (Finland),  Faculty of Social Sciences, Practical Philosophy


(link coming soon)

Conference fees:

Students: 90 Euros

PhD students and Postdocs: 120 Euros

Researchers presenting: 150 Euros

Academic participants: 180 Euros 

Participants from private sector: 210 Euros 

Note: for the registration category "late registration" other fees apply.