Call for papers


Special Issue of AI and Society: Killer robots or friendly fridges: the social understanding of Artificial Intelligence


This CFP arises from the Symposium Killer robots or friendly fridges: the social understanding of Artificial Intelligence normal'> held at Heriot-Watt University as part of the AISB Symposia in April 2009.

For the non-specialist, the whole notion of Artificial Intelligence challenges fundamental understandings of what it is to be human, with enormous implications for how we conceive ourselves, our artefacts and our societies.AI’s foundational goal was the construction of autonomous sentience. Yet, 55 years after Turing's seminal paper, publicly visible achievements, beyond science fiction speculations or media exaggerations, still lie in faltering steps in voice and image recognition, surveillance, computer games and virtual environments, not in truly intelligent everyday machines.

We seek papers that discuss the social understanding of Artificial Intelligence, in particular the curious spaces between popular expectations of machines that meet our every whim, fears of humans enslaved or eliminated by crazed super-brains, and the sober reality of toasters that still burn the bread.

At the start of the 21st century, it is timely to reflect not just on the technical achievements and pitfalls of the now mature discipline of Artificial Intelligence, but also on its wider social understanding. While there have always been ill informed concerns about 'robots taking over the world', the reality is both more prosaic and more complex. People have long anthropomorphised complex artefacts which are capable of seemingly autonomous interaction. However, recent advances in the deployment of believable characters and affective systems, both in graphical and robotic form, have rekindled problematic social and ethical questions about our relationships with machines.

We would encourage work taking an interdisciplinary perspective on the social understanding of Artificial Intelligence, with the strong potential to bring together contemporary research from Technology, Social Sciences, Philosophy, Psychology, Art and the Humanities.


  • AI, Ethics and privacy
  • AI and Public Policy
  • Portrayal of AI in film, novel and other art forms
  • Anthropomorphism and AI
  • Attitudes towards robots and graphical characters
  • Believability, naturalism and the uncanny valley
  • Definitions of human-ness and AI artefacts
  • AI and gender
  • Social impact of AI v
  • Social expectations of AI
  • Social perceptions of AI
  • Social/legal/economic status of AIs
  • Social/ethical implications of AI augmentation of humans
  • Human/AI construct co-working
  • If AIs could talk, would we understand them?
  • What is it like to be an AI?


We are seeking submissions of original papers that fit well with the topics above. These should not have been submitted elsewhere and will be subject to the normal journal review process. They should be not longer than 16 pages.

Papers presented at the AISB Symposium may be submitted in extended versions as may relevant papers from its sibling events, the Symposium on New frontiers in Human-Robot Interaction and Computing and Philosophy.

The format and style templates can be found here for MSWord and here for LaTeX.

or via the Springer AI&Society webpage. Papers should be submitted via the EasyChair site at:


Sept 11th   2009 - submission of abstract

Sept 15th  2009 – submission of paper

October 30th 2009 – notification to authors

Dec 15th 2009 – Camera ready copies


Prof Greg Michaelson/Prof Ruth Aylett

Computer Science, Heriot-Watt University, Riccarton, EH14 4AS

0131 451 3422/4189 (phone)

0131 451 3732 (FAX)


Greg Michaelson/Ruth Aylett
School of Maths and Computer Science,
Montbatten Building,
Heriot-Watt University,
E14 4AS.

Tel +44 131 451 3422/4189
Fax +44 131 451 3327

Last Update: 19 Sept 2008