Embracing Diversity and Social Justice in Social Robotics

Friday October 6, 2023 from 1:30 PM to 6:00 PM
Zwarte Doos (Movie theatre), Campus TU/e

It's no secret that robots might reinforce harmful biases and perpetuate discrimination. Whether it's because they are assigned stereotypical roles based on their appearance or because they promote racist beliefs due to biased dataset training.

On October 6th we delved into the realm of social robotrics in our symposium "Embracing Diversity and Social Justice in Social Robotics". We explored the risks that social robots pose in terms of biases, but also looked at their potential for positive impact. When designed with social justice in mind, social robots can become powerful drivers of change and inclusivity.

We are proud to have been inspired by our exceptional keynote speakers, professor Friederike Eyssel and dr. Tom Williams.Our audience also enjoyed a dynamic panel discussion with renowned scholars and experts from the Netherlands.

Chaired by


Event Image: Cristina Zaga

Our speakers:

Friederike Eyssel

“From a social psychological perspective we know that humans have a hard time to overcome their biases. It requires conscious effort to fight them every day. Let our research contribute to raising awareness and to changing people's minds eventually”

Friederike Eyssel is a professor of psychology and heads the "Applied Social Psychology and Gender Research" group at the Center for Cognitive Interaction Technology (CITEC) in Bielefeld University, Germany. Prof. Eyssel has held visiting professorships in social psychology at the University of Münster, the Technical University of Dortmund, the University of Cologne, and the New York University Abu Dhabi. Her research interests span social robotics, trust, acceptance of new technologies, attitudes, and attitudinal change. She has published in renowned journals and co-authored several textbooks on social robots.


Photo: Bielefeld University

Tom Williams

"The concept of robots sprung from White Supremacist ambitions in the 19th-century United States. As a result, the design of modern robots and the domains in which they are deployed serves to reinforce White Supremacy across multiple domains of power."

Tom Williams is an Associate Professor of Computer Science at Colorado School of Mines. He leads the Mines Interactive Robotics Research Lab and holds a joint PhD in Computer Science and Cognitive Science from Tufts University. His research focuses on natural language-based human-robot interaction, considering environmental, cognitive, social, and moral context. Tom's work receives funding from NSF, ONR, and ARL, including Early Career awards from NSF, NASA, and AFOSR. Currently on sabbatical at the University of Bristol, he is authoring a book for MIT Press on the social and ethical aspects of interactive robots.


Photo: Dana J Quigley

Cristina Zaga

“As embodied AI seems to define and redefine what it means to be human discriminating based on gender, race, and ability, we should explore ways to depart from humanlike forms and stereotypical behaviors. To take action, we should start with an in-depth analysis of what embodied AI represents, excludes, and reminisces.”

Cristina Zaga is an assistant professor at the University of Twente, affiliated with the Human-Centred Design group and DesignLab. She holds a Ph.D. in Computer Science and double MSc in Cognitive Science and Human-Media interaction. Her research focuses on transdisciplinary methods, tools, and technology to facilitate societal transitions towards just, caring, and solidary futures involving communities, nature, and artificial agents. She applies her research in domains such as healthcare and the future of work. Additionally, Cristina leads the Social Justice and AI networks, which aim to address the dehumanizing and oppressive impacts of AI and embodied AI technology while promoting social and environmental justice.

Maria Luce Lupetti

“As designers we can provide platforms for telling a plurality of stories, and for collectively challenging the idea that there is one normal way of being in the world”

Maria Luce Lupetti is a designer and researcher dedicated to promoting critical perspectives in technology development. She is currently an Assistant Professor in Interaction and Critical Design at TU Delft's faculty of IDE. Maria Luce is actively involved in the AiTech Initiative, focusing on meaningful human control over AI systems, and contributes to the TU Delft AI Labs & Talent Programme Management Team. She holds a Ph.D. in Production, Management, and Design, and her research explores responsible human-technology relationships, with a particular focus on the intersection of design, ethics, AI, and robotics. Maria Luce utilizes critical design methods to foster conscious and responsible approaches in the development of AI systems.

Minha Lee

“Humanizing machines at the cost of dehumanizing humans or rendering human labor behind any seemingly intelligent machine invisible is an ethical cost we need to address.”

Minha Lee is an Assistant Professor at the Industrial Design Department of Eindhoven University of Technology. With a background in philosophy, digital arts, and HCI, her research focuses on moral emotions and mental well-being. She explores the use of conversational agents, such as robots or chatbots, as moral mirrors that expand our sense of self and contribute to our overall emotional and psychological health. She served as a general co-chair of the 2023 ACM Conversational User Interface conference.


Photo: Vincent van den Hoogen


Humans and Technology

Understanding the relation between humans and technology is key to responsible development and acceptance of future technologies in almost every application field, be it energy, mobility, health, work, living, learning or entertainment.