Dual use, future computing, neurorobotics and the Human Brain Project

December 17, 2015

In order to register for this seminar, please send an email to: hbp@tekno.dk.

Confirmed presenters and commentators include: Alain Destexhe, Jürgen Altmann, Filippa Lentzos, David Lester, Florian Röhrbein, Vincent Müller, Jonathan Moreno, Guglielmo Tamburrini, Valentina Bartolucci, Nikolas Rose, Berit Bringedal, Malcolm Dando and Edward You

On the 10th and 11th of March 2016, an expert seminar is taking place on ‘dual use’ issues in relation to computational neuroscience and robotics. In this seminar we are particularly interesting in exploring dual use, as the potential inherent in scientific and technological research for civil purposes, that there might be military, defence or surveillance opportunities as well.

The EU Human Brain Project, as any other EU project, is regulated to prevent dual use research and funding. However, this does not preclude dual use interest in the project, or completely eliminate the risk of dual uses of its research. At this seminar we will hear from experts working on the science and technology in the Human Brain Project, but we will also include the perspective and experience from the US Brain Initiative as well as from ethicists and social science researchers working on the prevention of dual use of technology and science.

We would like to explore the following issues with you at the seminar:

  • How have issues of dual use been managed historically with regard to these or related scientific and technical developments? How are dual use issues managed presently?
  • How do neuroscientists and computer scientists address issues of dual use in their own practice?
  • What are the implications of international differences (e.g. EU/US) in the military and defence involvement in research in computational neuroscience and robotics?
  • Which advances in computational neuroscience and robotics might lead to new advances in military technologies, and with what social and ethical implications?
  • What influence can the scientific research community, policy makers, and civil society have on the possible military applications of research and development in robotics and computational neuroscience?

The aim of the seminar is to learn from each other, and to develop an initial dialogue on recognition and management of dual use issues. The outcome of the seminar will be written up in the form of a policy brief, with recommendations for the HBP on how to understand and manage the potential dual use of research in the Human Brain Project.


Programme (please note this a draft programme)

Thursday March 10th, 2016

13.00 – 13.30 Buffet Lunch at the EITN

13.30 – 13.45 Welcome to the EITN, by Dr. Alain Destexhe, EITN-UNIC CNRS and HBP SP4 

13.45 – 14.00 Introduction to the seminar and program

14.00 – 14.45 Opening talk

“Title tbc”, by Dr. David Lester, University of Manchester

14:45 – 15:00 Coffee break

15.00 – 17.00 First session

Topic: Future robotics, neuromorphic computing and dual use: risks and prevention

Chair: Prof. Nikolas Rose, HBP Foresight Lab, King’s College London

15.00 – 16.00: Presentations by the HBP on current research and development in the HBP sub-projects: “Neurorobotics” and “Neuromorphic” computing

                  “Neurorobotics in the HBP” Dr. Florian Röhrbein, TUM Münich

   “Title (tbc)Dr. David Lester, University of Manchester

16.00 – 17.00: Commentary and plenary discussion


War and Peace, Armament and Disarmament, Dual Use: Fundamentals for Researchers in the Sciences“, by Dr. Jürgen Altmann, Technische Universität Dortmund

Title (tbc)” by Prof. Vincent C. Müller, Anatolia College, President European Association of Cognitive Systems (EUCog)

17:00 – 17:30 Coffee break

17:30 – 18:30 Presentation

Dual-Use Neuroscience, Novel Neuroweapons and the Future of the Chemical Weapons Convention“, by Prof. Malcolm Dando, University of Bradford

18.30 – 19.30 Presentation

“Mind Wars”, by Prof. Jonathan Moreno, University of Pennsylvania [via video link]

20.00 – 22.00: Dinner


Friday March 11th, 2016

09:30 – 09:45 Welcome and introduction to the day

09.45 – 11.45: Second session

Topic: Intelligent machines, machine learning and neuromorphic computing: risks of dual use

Chair: Dr. Valentina Bartolucci, University of Pisa

09.45 – 10.45 Presentations by the HBP panel on current research and development in the HBP sub-projects: “High-performance computing”

                “High-performance computing: historic perspective and contemporary applications” Prof. Thomas Schulthess, Swiss National Super-Computing Centre

“Dreaming of electric sheep: Neuromorphic Computing in Review” Vitali Karasenko, Universität Heidelberg the Kirchhoff Institute for Physics (KIP)

10:45 – 11:15 Coffee Break

11:15 – 12.15: Commentary and plenum debate


High-Performance Computing, Artificial Intelligence and Robotics: Strong Military Interests, Big Dangers for Peace and Security“, by Dr. Jürgen Altmann, Technische Universität Dortmund,

12.15 – 13:15  Buffet Lunch at the EITN

13:15 – 16:00 Third session

Topic:  Managing Research and Innovation in ICT and robotics to prevent dual use

Chair: Prof. Guglielmo Tamburrini, University of Naples

13.15 – 15.45 Commentary and presentations by the HBP Ethics Advisory Board and external experts

“Convergence: Implications in cybersecurity, health, and the economy”, Supervisory Special Agent Edward You,

FBI Weapons of Mass Destruction Directorate Biological Countermeasures Unit

“Governing emerging technologies with high misuse potential”, Dr. Filippa Lentzos, ´King’s College London

“Ethical advisors in the HBP – report from the EAB”, by Dr. Berit Bringedal, Human Brain Project Ethics Advisory Board

Dual use and the ethical framing of ICT and robotics research“, by Prof. Guglielmo Tamburrini, University of Naples

15:45 – 16.00 Closing reflections


Practical information and registration
The seminar will consist of a number of presentations from selected speakers, followed by a discussion among the participants. The seminar will start on March 10, 2016 at 13.00 CET with a buffet lunch, and end on March 11, 2016 at 16.00 CET at the European Institute for Theoretical Neuroscience. More information on the program and content of the seminar will be circulated following registration.
In order to register for the seminar, please send an email to: hbp@tekno.dk.

Organisation: The seminar is a joint collaboration between the Danish Board of Technology Foundation, and the HBP Foresight Lab at King’s College London, both members of the sub-project 12 Ethics and Society of the HBP, and of the European Institute for Theoretical Neuroscience (EITN) as part of the HBP sub-project 4 Theoretical Neuroscience.