Group8: Avatar social ethics design

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Consortium management for avatar social ethics design and research on avatar communication (Yukiko NAKANO)

Nonverbal behaviors such as gestures and facial expressions are unconsciously expressed during conversations, and they function as social signals in communication. Social signal processing (SSP) is a research field of artificial intelligence that analyzes and learns models for social signals in human-to-human and human-to-agent/robot communications. Applying multimodal machine learning approach to social signals, we are developing methods for estimating the characteristics of conversation participants, such as conversational engagement, leadership and communication skills in group discussions, and detecting important utterances in discussions.

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Research and development of moral computing (Takayuki KANDA)

We aim to realize "human-like robots" that operate in human daily environments in symbiotic way and collaborate with people. For this aim, we conduct studies on sensor network that enables robots to interact with people in real world, studies on interaction modeling that endows "human-like ness" to a robot (both behaviorally and computationally), and real-world human-robot interaction studies which enables us to better design robotic system that is socially acceptable. Moreover, we study moral interaction capability for robots to realize a symbiotic society between people and robots. With such background, in this project, we study moral computing that will ensure safe and comfortable use of CA.

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Moral behavior in CAs and humans (Minao KUKITA)

We are working on issues that arise at the interface between cybernetic avatars, CAs, and social norms, so-called ELSI (ethical, legal, and social issues). In an avatar society where everyone can use CAs, the nature of people's identities, the way people relate to each other, and the nature of communication will change dramatically. At the same time, there are various ethical concerns. Therefore, we will develop new ethical guidelines necessary for the new technology and society by asking how people's identities, human relationships, and communication will be changed by CAs, and what the social impact will be, especially in terms of moral behavior. In recent robot ethics, the question of what the moral status of robots can and should be has become an important issue, and the realization of CAs will make these issues more pressing. We consider these issues to be part of avatar ethics and are working on them. In addition, with the aim of smooth acceptance of CAs in society, we are proposing the ethics of the avatar society and acting for its dissemination.

Legal research on privacy issues (Kaori ISHII)

This research focuses on privacy issues on cybernetic avatars through two aspects. The first is studying the essence of the right of privacy in the context of CA. If humans are replaced for CAs in real life, people are able to engage in various activities while keeping their anonymity. People who use CAs can freely decide not only their appearances, but also their characters, or personalities. Even if a user encounters some troubles or makes serious mistakes in real life, he can recover himself in the society by recreating his CA. I will delve into the legal nature of the legal right to privacy about freely creating and managing CAs. The second is studying how to address identity thefts of CAs. If security faults are found in CAs or their management systems, activities or perceptions are unreasonably collected and analyzed by a perpetrator, and which will end up with occurring identity thefts. If data subjects use their CAs which looks alike themselves, their detailed privacy will be revealed in a more serious manner than real life. Therefore, I will research the measures how to protect against identity thefts of CAs and recover damages in the case of relevant incidents, in accordance with the risk of privacy concerned.

Research on the avatar law (Fumio SHIMPO)

This research project has been conducting research to clarify legal issues related to the R&D, social use, social implementation and acceptability of Cybernetic Avatars. The research also examines the social acceptability of such emerging technologies. I have been proposing new research area as a pioneer of 'Robot Law'. Currently, I aim to conduct research on 'Avatar Law', focusing on new legal interpretations and proposals on how to solve legal issues necessary for the use and social diffusion of CA, and are attempting to make proposals for the development of the necessary legal system and new social norms. Infectious diseases with subclinical transmission, such as coronavirus infections (infectious diseases in which symptomatic persons are the main agents of transmission but there is a risk of infection from asymptomatic pathogen carriers, including infected persons in the incubation period before the onset of disease), and which may have a serious impact on the life and health of the population, when new infectious diseases occur in the future, the importance of communication using tangible CA such as autonomous and remote robots and intangible CA such as CG avatars as a non-contact technology will be expected to avoid such risk and conducting research into the social norms necessary for CA in such circumstances.

Study of the social implementation of avatars (Harumichi YUASA)

This study addresses the legal issues that arise when users in special positions, such as elected public officials, use CA. Unlike ordinary users, these users may be regulated by special laws such as the Public Offices Election Law. Previous studies have revealed that it is extremely difficult to use CAs for election campaigns because election campaigns are regulated by the provisions of the Public Offices Election Law. In the future, this research will be conducted on the pros and cons of using CA in other situations and events.