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 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 robotics, and social and ethical issues.

Prof. Asaro has held research positions at the Center for Information Technology Policy at Princeton University, Center for Cultural Analysis at Rutgers University, the HUMlab of Umeň 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 was involved in the design of 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 discussion 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.


Featured Media:

Representative work:

(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:

RobotMediaStudio

Contact me:

asaro AT alumni.illinois.edu