Keynote Speakers

Prof Peter-Paul Verbeek
Distinguished Professor of Philosophy of Technology  and co-director of the DesignLab of the University of Twente
Keynote Title:

Artificial Intelligence and Ethical Disruption


Artificial Intelligence is an ethically disruptive technology: it challenges the very ethical concepts and frameworks with which it can be evaluated itself. AI systems bring radically new human-technology relations: rather than merely being ‘used’, they develop forms of ‘agency’ of their own, performing cognitive and physical tasks, and creating a new, technological environment. Moreover, they typically work on the human mind: AI interferes with human interpretations, decision-making, and creativity. Concepts like agency, responsibility, and intentionality, therefore, need to be reinterpreted in order to develop an adequate ethical approach to AI. In this lecture, I will address this ethical disruption in three steps. First, I will analyze the new human-technology relations that AI brings: how do digital technologies affect human practices, decisions, and interpretive frameworks? And how do new, hybrid forms of intentionality emerge from this, in which human and technological intentionalities are connected in novel ways? Second, I will investigate how these new human-technology relations challenge central ethical concepts and frameworks. How to understand the influence of digital technologies on moral actions, decision-making and value frameworks? Finally, I will explain how the approach of ‘guidance ethics’ can be helpful to address the ethical challenges that AI brings.


Peter-Paul Verbeek (1970) is Distinguished Professor of Philosophy of Technology  and co-director of the DesignLab of the University of Twente. He is also honorary professor of Techno-Anthropology at Aalborg University, Denmark. His research focuses on the philosophy of human-technology relations, and contributes to philosophical theory, ethical reflection, and practices of design and innovation. Verbeek is chairperson of the UNESCO World Commission on the Ethics of Science and Technology (COMEST) and vice chair of the board of the Rathenau Institute for Technology Assessment and Science Policy. Among his books are ‘Moralizing Technology: Understanding and Designing the Morality of Things’ (University of Chicago Press, 2011) , ‘What Things Do: Philosophical Reflections on Technology, Agency, and Design’ (Penn State University Press, 2005) ‘Postphenomenological Investigations: Essays on Human-Technology Relations’ (Lexington 2015, edited with Robert Rosenberger), and ‘The Moral Status of Technical Artefacts’ (Springer 2014, edited with Peter Kroes). More information:

Prof. Bernhard Nebel
Professor at Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg (Germany) and head of the research group on Foundations of Artificial Intelligence

Keynote Title:

Implicit Coordination in Multi-Agent-Pathfinding


When using a decentralized planning approach in a cooperative multi-agent system, you either can make use of explicit coordination, i.e. using communication and negotiation during the planning phase, or you rely on implicit coordination, i.e., completely decentralized planning with runtime coordination. We will study such an implicit coordination regime in the setting of multi-agent pathfinding. In this setting it is usually assumed that planning is performed centrally and that the destinations of the agents are common knowledge. We will drop both assumptions and analyze under which conditions it can be guaranteed that the agents reach their respective destinations using implicitly coordinated plans without communication. Furthermore, we will analyze what the computational costs associated with such a coordination regime are. As it turns out, guarantees can be given assuming that the agents are of a certain type. However, the implied computational costs are quite severe.


Bernhard Nebel received his first degree in Computer Science (Dipl.-Inform.) from the University of Hamburg in 1980 and his Ph.D. (Dr. rer. nat.) from the University of Saarland in 1989. Between 1982 and 1993 he worked on different AI projects at the University of Hamburg, the Technical University of Berlin, ISI/USC, IBM Germany, and the German Research Center for AI (DFKI). From 1993 to 1996 he held an Associate Professor position (C3) at the University of Ulm. Since 1996 he is Professor at Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg and head of the research group on Foundations of Artificial Intelligence. His research interest are in knowledge representation and reasoning and AI planning, and how you can apply techniques from these areas in robotics. His achievements range from winning the Robocup competition and building an autonomous football table to solving theoretical problems in the area of planning. His current research interest is mostly in multi-agent pathfinding, contributing to the theoretical foundations in this area and applying it in real-world scenarios such as automating the ground-traffic on airports. Bernhard Nebel is an EurAI Fellow and a AAAI Fellow. He is also an elected member of the German Academy of Science Leopoldina and the Academia Europaea. In 2019, he was mentioned as one of the 10 formative researchers of German AI.


Mr Lee Annamalai
CTO at Geo Intelligence Corp (GeoInt)

Mr Lee Annamalai, over the past 18 years has dedicated his time towards helping South Africa move towards an innovation and knowledge economy.

He led the establishment of the South African National Space Agency, having worked on various mission feasibility studies and the development of the National Space Strategy and the Agency Business Case with the Dept of Science and Technology. From 2010 to 2014 he served on the Board of SANSA as a non-executive director and chaired the Strategy and Investment committee of the Board.

In his prior role as the R&D Manager of Earth Observation and IoT and Data Science Research at the CSIR, together with his team developed and commercialised new Data Analytics driven Space Applications that have global demand. Under his leadership and business guidance the CSIR has achieved the first South African Space Application Export (use in 70 countries around the world), a Spatial IoT system for the Nuclear Regulator and developed the National Oceans and Coasts Information Management System.

Lee is currently the group CTO at GEOINT CORP, a Small to Medium Enterprise, working on Spatial 2.0 technologies, which aims to commercialise novel location based products which apply advanced spatio-temporal analytics.