About me:

Professor Peter Asaro is a philosopher of science, technology and media. His work examines artificial intelligence and robotics as a form of digital media, the ethical dimensions of algorithms and data, and the ways in which technology mediates social and political relations and shapes our experience of the world.

His current research focuses on the social, cultural, political, legal and ethical dimensions of automation and autonomous technologies, from a perspective that combines media theory with science and technology studies. He has written widely-cited papers on autonomous weapons from the perspective of just war theory and human rights, and the legal and moral issues raised by law enforcement robots and predictive policing. Prof. Asaro's research also examines agency and autonomy, liability and punishment, and privacy and surveillance as it applies to consumer robots, industrial automation, smart buildings, UAVs and drones, and autonomous vehicles. His research has been published in international peer reviewed journals and edited volumes, translated into French, German, Korean and Braille, and he is currently researching a book that interrogates the intersections between advanced AI and robotics, and social and ethical issues.

Prof. Asaro is currently a Visiting Scholar at the University of Washington's Center for an Informed Public. He was recently a Visiting Professor at TU Munich's Center for Technology in Society, and has held research positions at the Center for Information Technology Policy at Princeton University, Center for Cultural Analysis at Rutgers University, the HUMlab of Umeå University in Sweden, and the Austrian Academy of Sciences in Vienna. He has also developed technologies in the areas of virtual reality, data visualization and sonification, human-computer interaction, computer-supported cooperative work, artificial intelligence, machine learning, robot vision, and neuromorphic robotics at the National Center for Supercomputer Applications (NCSA), the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology, and Iguana Robotics, Inc., and developed the natural language interface for the Wolfram|Alpha computational knowledge engine for Wolfram Research--this interface is also used by Apple's Siri and Microsoft's Bing to answer math queries, and won two 2010 SXSW Web Interactive Awards for Technical Achievement and Best of Show.

He is completing an Oral History of Robotics project that is funded by the IEEE Robotics and Automation Society and the National Endowment for the Humanities Office of Digital Humanities. He recently completed a three-year project on Regulating Autonomous Artificial Agents: A Systematic Approach to Developing AI & Robot Policy, funded by the Future of Life Institute.

In 2009, Prof. Asaro co-founded the International Committee for Robot Arms Control (ICRAC) which has been advocating for an international ban on autonomous weapon systems, and which in 2012 joined a coalition of NGOs to form the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots. The Campaign has been successful in initiating discussions of autonomous weapons at the United Nations Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW), and seeks to advance those talks to treaty negotiations.

Prof. Asaro received his PhD in the History, Philosophy and Sociology of Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he also earned a Master of Arts from the Department of Philosophy, and a Master of Computer Science from the Department of Computer Science.

2024 Talks:

Friday, January 12, "AI For Deception, Manipulation & Coercion: Towards a Theory and Regulation," Robotics Seminar Series, Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon.

2023 Talks:

Thursday, November 30, "A Conversation on Philosophy & Technology with Peter Asaro," The Garden of Ideas, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington.

Tuesday, November 28, "AI For Deception, Manipulation & Coercion: Towards a Theory and Regulation," Center for an Informed Public, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington.

Friday, November 10, "AI Ethics: From Critical Social Critique to Corporate Ethics Washing and Regulatory Avoidance," Panel on Contrasting Ethics Governance Projects in Science and Technology, Society for Social Studies of Science (4S) Conference, Honolulu, Hawaii.

Tuesday, October 17, "78th UNGA 1st Committee Side Event: Autonomous Weapon Systems and Human Control – What are the challenges and how to overcome them?" Sponsored by The Republic of Austria, United Nations, New York, New York.

Tuesday, September 5, "Responding to the challenges autonomous weapons systems pose to global peace, security, and international law," CARICOM Conference on The Human Impacts of Autonomous Weapons, Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago.

Saturday, August 19, "AI Ethics and The Social Control of Technology," Unraveling Intelligence, Kaliedo Confrence 2023, Hasliberg Rueti, Switzerland.

Wednesday, May 17, "What the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots Means for Ukraine," Lecture to Victory Series: World Speakers in Support of V. N. Karazin Kharkiv National University, V. N. Karazin Kharkiv National University, Kharkiv, Ukraine (via Zoom)

Wednesday, April 26, Chair of the "Ethics Aspects" Panel, Luxembourg Autonomous Weapons Conference, Maison des Arts et des Etudiants, Esch-sur-Alzette, Luxembourg.

Wednesday, March 22, "Human Dignity and Autonomous Weapons," John Jay College, City University of New York, New York, New York.

Wednesday, February 22, "Experts Panel," Digital Dehumanisation and Autonomous Weapons Conference, San Jose, Costa Rica.

2022 Talks:

Monday, November 14, "Teaching Robots Discretion: Privacy as Embodied Social Interactions," 1st International Symposium on Robot Ethics, Naver Labs & INRIA, Grenoble, France.

Friday, September 16, Discussant for "K9 Police Robots: Strolling Drones, RoboDogs, or Lethal Weapons?," WeRobot 2022, Washington University, Seattle, Washington.

2020 Talks:

Wednesday, September 23, Discussant for "Beyond “In the Loop”: On The Role of Meaningful Human Control in High-Stakes Machine-Human Partnerships," WeRobot 2020, University of Ottawa, Centre for Law, Technology & Society, Ottawa, Canada. (Online)

POSTPONED Wednesday, April 22, "Ethics of Algorithms and Data," Milstein Program in Technology & Humanity, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York.

POSTPONED Wednesday, April 16, "AI & International Security," International Congress for the Governance of AI (ICGAI), Prague, Czech Republic.

Tuesday, February 5, "Killer Robots: Legal and Ethical Implications," New York Law School, New York.

Friday, February 1, "When a Robot Decides Whether You Live or Die," Night of Philosophy and Ideas, Brooklyn Public Library, New York.

Tuesday, January 28, "The Consequences of Autonomous Weapons," Conference on Robots in Arms: Search for a Future Arms Control Regime to Regulate Autonomous Weapons, Evangelische Akademie of Loccum, Germany.

2019 Talks:

Thursday, November 21, "First Annual Fireside Chat on AI, Privacy, War and World Politics–In honor of the life and legacy of Professor Ian Kerr," Northeastern University, Boston.

Tuesday, November 19, "Co-Opting AI: Conflict," Institute for Public Knowledge, NYU, New York.

Saturday, November 2, "Political Origins of Health Inequities: Technology in the Digital Age," Governance Panel, The New School, New York.

Thursday, October 3, "Stockholm Security Conference: Conflict and Technology," SIPRI, Stockholm, Sweden.

Wednesday, October 2, "iPRAW EU/NATO Conference: Autonomy and Human Control in Weapon Systems," Panel on The CCW Process and Options for Arms Control, Representation of North Rhine-Westphalia, Brussels, Belgium.

Monday, September 9, "Tools and Weapons: A Conversation with Brad Smith and Trevor Noah," The New School, New York.

Tuesday, August 20, "IPRAW Side Event: Focus on Human Control," CCW GGE, United Nations, Geneva.

Tuesday, August 13, "Keynote: The Militarization of Artificial Intelligence," United Nations, New York.

Friday, May 31, "Keynote: Machine M.D.," Centre for Law, Technology and Society, University of Ottawa.

Thursday, April 25, "AI Ethics in Predictive Policing: From Models of Threat to an Ethics of Care," Munich Center for Technology in Society, Technical University of Munich.

Tuesday, February 19, "Toward a world without killer robots," AAR Japan, Rikkyo University, Tokyo, Japan.

Friday, February 15, "The Role of Scientific Expertise in the Autonomous Weapons Debate," AAAS Annual Meeting, Washington DC.

Tuesday, February 12, "From Killer Robots to Harmful AI: The Future of Human Rights," Center for Human-Compatible AI, University of California, Berkeley.

Monday, February 11, "From Killer Robots to Harmful AI: The Future of Human Rights," Stanford Artificial Intelligence Law Society (SAILS), Stanford Law School.

Monday, February 11, "The Future of Robotics is PEACEFUL," Salon Series, Silicon Valley Robotics, San Francisco.

Featured Media:

Representative work:

(2019) "AI Ethics in Predictive Policing: From Models of Threat to an Ethics of Care"
(2019) "Algorithms of Violence: Critical Social Perspectives on Autonomous Weapons"
(2019) "What is an 'AI Arms Race' Anyway?"
(2018) "Why The World Needs to Regulate Autonomous Weapons, and Soon.
(2017) "Introduction" to Asaro, P. and Wendell Wallach (eds.) Machine Ethics and Robot Ethics.
(2016) "'Hands Up, Don’t Shoot!' HRI and the Automation of Police Use of Force
(2016) "Will #BlackLivesMatter to RoboCop?"
(2016) "The Liability Problem for Autonomous Artificial Agents"

(2015) "Regulating Robots: A Multi-Scale Approach to Developing Robot Policy and Technology"
(2014) "Robots, Micro-Airspaces, and the Future of ‘Public Space’"
(2013) "The Labor of Surveillance and Bureaucratized Killing: New Subjectivities of Military Drone Operators"
(2012) "On Banning Autonomous Lethal Systems: Human Rights, Automation and the Dehumanizing of Lethal Decision-making"
(2011) "A Body to Kick, but Still No Soul to Damn: Legal Perspectives on Robotics"
(2011) "Remote-Control Crimes: Roboethics and Legal Jurisdictions of Tele-Agency"
(2009) "Military Robotics and Just War Theory"
(2009) "Modeling the Moral User: Designing Ethical Interfaces for Tele-Operation"
(2009) "
Special Issue on the Intellectual Legacy of W. Ross Ashby, Int. Journal of General Systems"
(2008) "How Just Could a Robot War Be?"
(2008) "Pornomechanics: Sex Robots and the Mechanisms of Love"
(2008) "From Mechanisms of Adaptation to Intelligence Amplifiers: The Philosophy of W. Ross Ashby"
(2007) "Heinz von Foerster and the Bio-Computing Movements of the 1960s"
(2007) "Robots and Responsibility from a Legal Perspective"
(2006) "What Should We Want from a Robot Ethic?"
(2006) "Working Models and the Synthetic Method: Electronic Brains as Mediators Between Neurons and Behavior"
(2005) "
A.I.and Emotional Robots: Collaborative Fiction in Science and Film"
(2000) "Transforming Society by Transforming Technology: The Science and Politics of Participatory Design"
(2001) Love Machine

Work with my Students:


Contact me:

asaro AT alumni.illinois.edu