Robots as AI Double Agents: Privacy in Motion Planning

R. Shome, Z. Kingston, and L. E. Kavraki, “Robots as AI Double Agents: Privacy in Motion Planning,” in IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems, 2023.


Robotics and automation are poised to change the landscape of home and work in the near future. Robots are adept at deliberately moving, sensing, and interacting with their environments. The pervasive use of this technology promises societal and economic payoffs due to its capabilities - conversely, the capabilities of robots to move within and sense the world around them is susceptible to abuse. Robots, unlike typical sensors, are inherently autonomous, active, and deliberate. Such automated agents can become AI double agents liable to violate the privacy of coworkers, privileged spaces, and other stakeholders. In this work we highlight the understudied and inevitable threats to privacy that can be posed by the autonomous, deliberate motions and sensing of robots. We frame the problem within broader sociotechnological questions alongside a comprehensive review. The privacy-aware motion planning problem is formulated in terms of cost functions that can be modified to induce privacy-aware behavior - preserving, agnostic, or violating. Simulated case studies in manipulation and navigation, with altered cost functions, are used to demonstrate how privacy-violating threats can be easily injected, sometimes with only small changes in performance (solution path lengths). Such functionality is already widely available. This preliminary work is meant to lay the foundations for near-future, holistic, interdisciplinary investigations that can address questions surrounding privacy in intelligent robotic behaviors determined by planning algorithms.

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