2014 Schedule
Interactive: March 7–11  •  Film: March 7–15  •  Music: March 11–16

Drones: Policy, Privacy & Public Safety

#sxsw #ieeedrones


While the use of drones on the battlefield is shrouded with public controversy, unmanned systems have changed the face of modern day warfare. Robots offer incredible functionality versatility and flexibility that can dramatically reduce civilian and soldier casualties. However, we are only beginning to examine the social and ethical implications of remote precision targeting, long-range functionality, and the impacts of distancing or removing the human element from hand-to-hand combat. When the kill is as distant as a video game screen, how does it impact our perceptions of the value of human life? As we work to ensure public safety through counterterrorism, what are the appropriate boundaries for the use of drones on the home front? This panel will look at the both the positive and negative impact of drone technology on what it means to be a soldier, civilian, citizen and victim. Part of the IEEE Technology for Humanity Series.


Ardy Williams


AJ Panorama


Helen Greiner


CyPhy Works

Helen Greiner is CEO of CyPhy Works, Inc, a company developing flying robots! In 1990, she co-founded iRobot Corporation (NASDAQ:IRBT) and served as President until 2004 and Chairman until October 2008. iRobot Corporation is the global leader in mobile robots having delivered 10 Million Roomba ™ vacuuming robots and deployed over 6000 tactical mobile robots (PackBot ™ and SUGV™). Greiner holds a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering and a master's degree in computer science, both from MIT. She has awards naming her a demo god, best leader, pioneer, global leader of tomorrow, young global leader, entrepreneur of the year, and innovator of the next century. Her goal has been and continues to be to get robots out of the lab and into peoples hands.


Noel Sharkey

Professor of AI & Robotics

University of Sheffield

Noel Sharkey BA PhD DSc FIET FBCS CITP FRIN FRSA Emeritus Professor of AI and Robotics and Professor of Public Engagement at the University of Sheffield.

Noel's core research interest is the ethical application of robotics and AI in areas such as the military, child care, elder care, policing, autonomous transport, robot crime, medicine/surgery, border control, sex and civil surveillance. He was a consultant for the National Health Think Tank (Health2020) report, Health, Humanity and Justice, September, 2010, an advisor for the Human Rights Watch Report Losing Humanity: the case against killer robots November, 2012 and a Working Party member of the Nuffield Foundation Report, Emerging biotechnologies: technology, choice and the public good, December, 2012 and is a director for the European branch of the Think Tank Centre for Policy on Emerging Technologies.

Nowadays Noel spends most of his time on the ethical, legal and technical aspects of military robotics. He travels the world to talk to the Military, policy makers, academics and other groupings such as the Red Cross. He was Leverhulme Research Fellow on the ethical and technical appraisal of robots on the Battlefield (2010-2012) and is a co-founder and chairman elect of the NGO: International Committee for Robot Arms Control (ICRAC) http://icrac.net. ICRAC is a member of the steering committee for the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots http://www.stopkillerrobots.org And Noel is one of their principal spokespersons.

Noel has held a number of research and teaching positions in the UK (Essex, Exeter, Sheffield) and the USA (Yale, Stanford). Noel has moved freely across academic disciplines, lecturing in engineering, philosophy, psychology, cognitive science, linguistics, artificial intelligence, computer science and robotics. He holds a Doctorate in Experimental Psychology (Exeter) and an honorary Doctorate of Science (UU), is a Chartered Electrical Engineer and Chartered information technology professional. Noel is a Fellow of the Institute of Engineering and Technology, the British Computer Society, the Royal Institute of Navigation, the Royal Society of Arts and is a member of both the Experimental Psychology Society and Equity (the actors union) for his work on popular robot TV shows.

Noel is well known for his early work on many aspects of neural network learning. As well as writing many academic articles, he also writes for national newspapers and magazines and has created thrilling robotics museum exhibitions and mechanical art installations. As holder of the EPSRC Senior Media Fellowship (2004-2010) he engaged with the public about science and engineering issues through many TV appearances and in radio and news interviews. Noel has been the architect for a number of large-scale robotics exhibitions for museums and has run robotics and AI contests for young people from 26 countries including the Chinese Creative Robotics Contest and the Egyptian Schools AI and Robotics competition. He is a joint team holder of the Royal Academy of Engineering Rooke medal for the promotion of engineering.


Robin Murphy

Dir, CRASAR, Raytheon Professor of Computer Science & Engineering

Texas A&M University

Robin R. Murphy is a Computer Science and Engineering at Texas A&M and Director of the Center for Robot-Assisted Search and Rescue and its Roboticists Without Borders program. She had pioneered the use of robots for disasters, inserting land, sea, and aerial robots at 15 events starting with the 9/11 World Trade Center and including Hurricane Katrina and the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident. She is an IEEE Fellow with over 150 publications and three books, one of which was used as a reference for Michael Crichton’s bestseller, Prey. She has been declared an “Innovator in AI” by TIME, an “Alpha Geek” by WIRED, and one of the “Most Influential Women in Technology” by Fast Company for her work with disaster robotics.

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