Workshop 3: Can Robots Care and Be Trusted?


Naonori Kodate, University College Dublin, Ireland

Dr. Nao Kodate is Associate Professor in Social Policy and Social Robotics, and the founding Director of UCD Centre for Japanese Studies (UCD-JaSt). His research straddles comparative healthcare politics and policy, and science & technology studies (STS). Key themes include: care and caring, health services research, systems thinking, safety & care quality, social robotics, welfare technologies, implementation science, and organizational learning. His recent research projects have been looking at the impact of digitalization and eHealth (e.g. robots) on care, patient safety regulation (e.g. incident reporting systems), and gender equality in science and technology education. His books include "Japanese Women in Science and Engineering: History and Policy Change" (Routledge, 2015), "New International Handbook on Social Welfare in UK & Ireland" (旬報社, 2019, in Japanese), and "Systems Thinking for Global Health" (Oxford University Press, 2022). He co-produced a documentary film "Circuits of Care: Ageing and Japan's Robot Revolution" (2021).

Vivek Nallur, University College Dublin, Ireland

Vivek Nallur works at the intersection of AI & Ethics. His current research involves healthcare robots in assisted living facilities and how to make robots behave ethically and predictably, when confronted with decision-making situations. He is a full voting member and serves on the IEEE P7008 Standards Committee for Ethically Driven Nudging for Robotic, Intelligent and Autonomous Systems. He also works with Multi-Agent Systems and Simulations. He co-leads an IRC COALESCE project to create a policy simulation model for economic migrants, that allows its users to ‘experiment’ with alternative policy assumptions and options.


Trust is the bedrock of society, yet it is an essentially contested concept as well. While trust is vital not only to human interactions, but also to human-robot interactions, we do not know yet how to make machines/robots trustworthy, and what qualities are necessary for trust to emerge. In a future, where autonomous machines not only co-exist, but also co-habit our living spaces, we need to unpack and better understand such qualities. This is not merely a matter of ensuring appropriate functionality for the robot. Rather, it is a subject for cross-disciplinary discussions and explorations of the nature of trust. The virtuous, far-seeing, benevolent robot is currently the stuff of fiction. Our workshop “Can robots care and be trusted?” will explore the critical questions: what qualities are necessary for care robots to be trusted, and how will tasks be shared between humans and machines in care settings? The workshop looks at these questions from multiple perspectives. The speakers will also explore ’integrative social robotics’ and key elements of responsible technology design, development and implementation in different cultural settings.


Kazuko Obayashi, Nihon Fukushi University, Japan

Kazuko Obayashi is Professor in Healthcare Management at Nihon Fukushi University, Japan and Research Fellow at UCD Centre for Japanese Studies, Ireland. She received her MSc from the Graduate School of Social Service Management, Japan College of Social Work. She is Director of Social Welfare Corporation Tokyo Seishin-kai and Universal Accessibility & Ageing Research Centre (UA-ARC). She is also a member of the Japan Geriatrics Society and the Japanese Society for Dementia Care.

Personal avatars and the uniqueness of persons

It is a fundamental notion of personhood that persons are unique and irreplaceable. Personal avatars—avatars that use GenAI technologies to represent, and present as being, real people—while not standing in an identity relation to those that they represent, may undermine the value of human uniqueness and consequently the value of persons. A person remains technically unique, but if an AI avatar or social robot can provide a representation of them that satisfies many social purposes, the value of that uniqueness is compromised. I will explore how personal avatars will undermine the value of the uniqueness of persons, and the possible consequences for individuals and broader society.  


Pekka Mäkelä, University of Helsinki, Finland

Pekka Mäkelä a has a doctorate in philosophy (University of Helsinki). He is the vice director of Helsinki Institute for Social Sciences and Humanities (HSSH). Mäkelä a is also a PI, jointly with Raul Hakli, of RADAR research group. His research interests are in normative dimensions of collective action, e.g. collective responsibility and trust, social ontology, the philosophy of the social sciences, and philosophical problems of social robotics and human-robot interaction. Presently he is the PI of three research projects on such themes as Ethical Risks and Responsibility of Robotics Group Processes in HumanRobot Ensembles with Social Robots, and Trust and Value-Sensitive Design.

How can we protect our caring professionals and communities in the era of robotics and AI?

As one of the most rapidly ageing countries, Japan is faced with a shortage of care workers and relatively low intake of migrant workers. Despite the shortage, the retention of care professionals, paradoxically, remains a great challenge. The environment in domiciliary care is often associated with heavy and challenging workload for little remuneration. Internationally, the sector is fraught with reports and scandals about abuse, neglect and low-quality standards of care in a facility. There is no wonder why people are concerned about the replacement of human care by robots, monitoring devices, and AI-driven technologies. In our residential nursing homes, we have experience of co-designing and implementing various types of robots and assistive technologies in the last decade. Based on this, my talk will re-examine what needs to be considered (i.e. opportunities and challenges) for the future of care delivery from the perspective of person-centered care and aging in place.


Yuko Tamaki-Welply, EHESS, France

Yuko Tamaki Welply is PhD Candidate at the School of Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences (EHESS) in Paris, France, under an international PhD contract (20212024) with the National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS), to study the innovation aimed for the care of older adults in a comparative perspective (France and Japan). Her research interests lie in the intersection of sociology of innovation, science and technology studies (STS), and care ethics perspectives. One of her research objectives is to explore the ‘imagined’ and ‘real’ uses of social robots in long-term care settings.

Social robots and sociality: a social science approach to Human-Robot Interaction, in eldercare settings

Understanding the simulatory capabilities of AI- powered social robots is crucial not only for explaining how they affect human mental health but also for conceptualising robot ethics. However, few research have shown the nature of relationships with and through robots using observational data from settings where robots are in use. This presentation addresses previously overlooked features of social robot sociality through a social science approach. The study included interviews with relevant actors as well as ethnographic observations of diverse usages of social robots in eldercare facilities in different sociocultural environments (France and Japan). Despite the robot’s artificial sociality, the research presented here confirms the ‘real’ social connectiveness in robotic care as documented in anthropological research. These findings can contribute to a better understanding of social relationships with and through social robots, providing some insights into the effects of simulated sociality and complexities of robot ethics.


Paulo Menezes, University of Coimbra, Portugal

Paulo Menezes is affiliated with the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Coimbra, where he currently serves as a scientific committee and board member. As a lecturer, he is responsible for courses on Computer Architecture, Computer Graphics and Augmented Reality, and Interactive Systems and Robotics. Additionally, he is a senior researcher at the Institute of Systems and Robotics, leading the Mobile Robotics Laboratory and heading the Immersive Systems and Sensorial Stimulation Laboratory. Within these laboratories, he engages in diverse activities encompassing Affective Computing, Human-Robot Interaction, Virtual and Augmented Reality, and Human Behaviour Analysis. He has been actively involved in European Project in fields of social robots, and assistive systems. He is a member of IEEE and its affiliated societies IEEE-RAS, IEEE-SMC, IEEE-CIS, currently serving as the Chair of the Portuguese Chapter of the IEEE Robotics and Automation Society.

Trust in Human-Robot Interactions: Learning From Pets

Trust stands as the cornerstone of meaningful interactions within human communities. Similarly, the coexistence of humans and robots mirrors the challenges encountered in purely human societies. Drawing parallels to the widespread acceptance of pets in households, this acceptance hinges on principles like trust, predictability, and safety. Animals in our homes demonstrate predictable behaviors, recognizing our presence and adapting to our activities, fostering a safe coexistence. Notably, animals, such as dogs and cats, exhibit heightened awareness of our movements, contributing to both their safety and ours. This analogy extends to the human-animal relationship, emphasizing the significance of trust in navigating shared spaces. Humans and animals share a proficiency in detecting brief glances, using them for non-verbal communication and confirming predicted behavior. The talk delves into these parallels, particularly exploring the role of perceived awareness and action forecast in social robots. It highlights their pivotal role in enhancing perceived safety and contributing to the comfort of elderly users, echoing the fundamental importance of trust in human-robot interactions.