Robots and Human Rights, Policies and Ethical Standards Discussed at Conference Hosted by University of Turku

Could there be robot rights comparable to the rights of humans?

What policies and ethical standards currently exist?

These pressing questions and others were addressed during the conference Robot and AI ethics: Dialogue between Europe and East Asia, held at the University of Turku between 12:00 – 16:00 on 22 November 2018. The event was free and open to the public to attend.

The University of Turku is a member institution of the Finnish China Law Center.

Background to the conference

According to the event organizers, East Asian countries are among the most advanced in the utilization of robots and the development of AI. Robots are already deeply embedded in the Japanese society, South Korea’s industry is the most robotized in the world, and China aims to become an AI super power by 2030.​

Robots and Artificial Intelligence (AI) are rapidly transforming our societies. While robotics is quickly advancing, discussions on fundamental ethical issues, laws and policies lag seriously behind (and are far from being solved). These issues range from end-of-life decisions taken by engineers to defining human-robot relationships. While there has been an emerging literature on ethical challenges of robots and AI, little comparative research has been done on European and East Asian perspectives in this debate. ​

The aim of this event was to bring together scholars and practitioners from East Asia and Europe to discuss general perspectives and attitudes towards robots and AI as well as ethical aspects. The focus was on technology that already has practical applications, and thus is affecting our societies the most, like self-driving cars and care robots.

The event organizers were the Centre for East Asian Studies in cooperation with the discipline of Philosophy, the Faculty of Science and Engineering of the University of Turku and the Turku AI Society.

For more information

Please contact University lecturer Sabine Burghart at sabine.burghart[at] or University lecturer Outi Luova at outi.luova[at]

Upcoming event: The Legacy of Liu Xiaobo, University of Helsinki: 12 January 2018

Logo of the Erik Castrén Institute of International Law and Human Rights, University of Helsinki

University of HelsinkiFinnish China Law Center member institution, the University of Helsinki, will hold a day-long conference ‘The Legacy of Liu Xiaobo’ on 12 January 2018.

The life and choices of Liu Xiaobo, Nobel Peace Prize laureate and recently deceased, stand as an example of political and ethical activism in a world yearning for such examples.

This event evokes Liu Xiaobo’s experience, investigates its legacy and reflects on broader themes of China’s constitutional, rights, ethics and international relations thinking and practice.

This international conference, featuring participants from China, Singapore, USA, Britain, Finland and elsewhere, is organized by Professor Jan Klabbers and Post-Doctoral Researcher Guilherme Vasconcelos Vilaça of the Erik Castrén Institute of International Law and Human Rights, University of Helsinki.

Time and date: 0930 – 1630, Friday 12 January 2018

Location: Room P674, Faculty of Law (Porthania Building), University of Helsinki, Yliopistonkatu 4

Registration: The event is free and registration can be made through this link:


9:30 – 10:10 Key note speech: Jean-Philippe Béja (Centre national de la recherche scientifique & Centre de recherches internationales): “Liu Xiaobo’s Legacy: Life in Truth, the Magic Weapon Against Post-Totalitarian Lie”

10:10 – 10:30 Hermann Aubié (Aston University): Unlearning Enmity and Hatred: Listening to Liu Xiaobo’s Voice of Conscience by Revisiting his Struggle for Human Dignity and a Future Free China”

Coffee Break until 11

1. Rights, Constitutionalism, Democracy (Chair: Maria Varaki)

11:00 – 11:20 Fu Hualing (University of Hong Kong): “Public Interest Lawyering in China: Escalation and Backlash?”

11:20 – 11:40 Panu Minkkinen (University of Helsinki): “Why Are Human Rights Important (Even For A Crit)?”

11:40 – 12:00 Eva Pils (King’s College, London): “China’s Dual State And Its ‘Enemies’ Under Xi Jinping”

12:00 – 12:20 Michael W. Dowdle (National University of Singapore): “China and Dual Constitutionalism”

Discussion until 13

Lunch 13:00 – 14:30

2. Ethical Leadership and Chinese Ethics (Chair: Pamela Slotte)

14:30 – 14:50 Jan Klabbers (University of Helsinki): “On Ethical Leadership”

14:50 – 15:10 Justin Tiwald (San Francisco State University): “Character-centered Theories of Governance in Confucian Political Thought”

15:10 – 15:30 Ralph Weber (University of Basel):  tbd

15:30 – 15:50 Guilherme Vasconcelos Vilaça (University of Helsinki): “Values and the Belt & Road Initiative”

Discussion until 16:30

Conference Dinner

Further information

Please contact Project Coordinator Hector Nystedt at hector.nystedt (at)