SU establishes new institute for autonomous systems policy
SYRACUSE, NY, May 6, 2019 — From
self-driving cars to drone delivery systems, from robotic underwater vessels to
smart-home technologies, the increasing reliance on autonomous systems
poses complex social, ethical and legal questions that demand
interdisciplinary, multi-faceted research. At Syracuse University’s inaugural Autonomous
Systems Policy Symposium, Chancellor Kent D. Syverud today announces the
establishment of a new institute devoted to research and teaching in this
burgeoning and rapidly evolving field.
“The Autonomous Systems Policy Institute will
leverage the policy leadership expertise of Syracuse University’s top-ranked
Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. In concert with experts from
across all of Syracuse University’s schools and colleges, the institute will
address an urgent societal need while providing opportunities for research and
student experiences that cross disciplines,” says Syverud.
View the Chancellor’s Opening Remarks and Symposium Keynote
ASPI’s approach to researching the societal
impacts of autonomous systems is novel in two important ways: its true interdisciplinarity
— across the social sciences, natural sciences, and humanities, as well as the professional
schools such as engineering, law, communications, and business — and its broad
definition of autonomous systems.
“Cities, social systems, laws, economies,
nations, and ecosystems won’t adjust to new autonomous technologies one at a
time. Instead, they will have to find ways to accommodate multiple autonomous
systems — developing at different speeds and regulated in different ways —
concurrently,” says the Maxwell School’s Professor of Geography Jamie Winders, who
will direct the new institute. “The Autonomous Systems Policy Institute uses
this complex mix as its starting point. We can’t effectively understand
complicated issues by studying transformative developments in isolation. We can
only offer effective solutions when we consider the complexity of those issues.”
Among other themes, the new Institute will
address questions like: What and whose values should be baked into the
artificial intelligence systems driving autonomous systems? Where should drone “highway”
go, and what are the implications of such highways? In a world of autonomous
vehicles, what should the legal definition of driver be? How can urban, suburban, and rural communities plan for
the period of “cohabitation” of autonomous and piloted vehicles? What new
social divides will the adoption of autonomous systems create, and what old
ones might it help solve?
The May 6 symposium brings together a wide
range of scholars, policymakers, and industry professionals to deliberate three
questions that will provide valuable insight to help inform the institute’s
initial priorities: What are the most exciting, the most challenging, and the
most pressing issues facing the public in the design, governance, and impacts
of autonomous systems?
Follow on Twitter May 6: #ASPI #exciting #challenging
According to symposium keynote speaker Travis
Mason ’06 BA (PSc), VP and Head of Regulatory and Certification, Urban Air
Mobility, Airbus, “The technology of autonomous systems has advanced far beyond
the existing policy and legal frameworks at almost every level of government.
Yet, the field of academic research into the policy implications is only just
beginning to emerge.”
A review of offerings by major U.S. colleges
and universities found fewer than 40 programs, centers, or initiatives doing
regular work in this area, mostly focused on transportation and aerial
vehicles, and many from an applied standpoint. Few, or none, are focused on the
full landscape of autonomous systems and the broader societal implications in
the way that this new institute will be.
“In establishing this new interdisciplinary institute,
we are making every effort to ensure that we not only leverage Syracuse
University’s strengths in ways that will truly maximize their impact on the
public good, but also match them to the most pressing challenges and the
greatest unmet needs,” says Winders. “We see this as an opportunity and a
responsibility to create an unparalleled experience for our faculty and
students to immerse in cutting-edge research and to help shape the policy,
legal, and ethical frameworks guiding the proliferation of autonomous systems.”
About Syracuse University
Syracuse University is a private, international research
university with distinctive academics, diversely unique offerings and an
undeniable spirit. Located in the geographic heart of New York State, with a
global footprint and nearly 150 years of history, Syracuse University offers a
quintessential college experience, as well as innovative online learning
environments. The scope of Syracuse University is a testament to its strengths.
At Syracuse University, we offer a choice of more than 200 majors and 100
minors offered through 13 schools and colleges and 18 online degree programs.
We have more than 15,000 undergraduates and 7,500 graduate students, more than
a quarter of a million alumni in 160 countries and a student population from
all 50 U.S. states and 123 countries. For more information, please visit http://syracuse.edu.