Professor Noel Sharkey

Professor Noel Sharkey

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AI & Robotics Expert; Robot Wars Judge

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Although known to TV audiences as a Robot Wars judge, Noel is one of the leading experts in the field of AI and robotics. In an academic career that has taken in computer science, psychology and engineering, as well as time served at Stanford and Yale, he consults with organisations from the NHS to the UN on the ethics of emerging technologies and their consumer, healthcare and military applications.


Perhaps best known for his role as chief judge on the BBC series Robot Wars, Professor Noel Sharkey is a widely-respected expert in artificial intelligence and robotics. He has spent over three decades researching the field of digital and robotic systems, covering their parameters, applications, and ethics.

A varied career has seen Noel work as a chartered electrical engineer, professor of computer science at Yale, and professor of psychology at Stanford. He became Director of the Centre for Cognitive Science at the University of Essex and Director of the Centre for Connection Science at the University of Sheffield. With an interdisciplinary take on technology stretching from philosophy to linguistics to engineering, Noel’s research has ranged from biologically inspired robotics and cognitive processes to human-robot interaction, AI communication and machine learning.

The diverse nature of Noel’s research gives him insights into all aspects of the field, from the engineering and technical side of AI to the philosophy and psychology around it. In his talks he focuses on the ethical implications and potential harm to humanity, as well as the societal benefits of robotics and AI, with an accessible and entertaining delivery. Noel explores applications of AI and robotics in the military, childcare, surveillance, medicine, healthcare, education, sex and criminal activity, and calls for improved regulation and humanitarian legal intervention.

Noel is the founding Editor-in-Chief of Connection Science, and editor of the academic journals the Artificial Intelligence Review and Robotics and Autonomous Systems. He has published over 150 academic articles, and has written for many newspapers and magazines including The Guardian and Forbes, and as well as his time on Robot Wars he regularly appears on BBC TV and radio. Noel advises the NHS think-tank Health2020, is a member of the Nuffield Foundation’s group on the ethics of emerging biotechnologies, is co-director of the Foundation for Responsible Robotics, a United Nations advocate on the use of military robotics, and the Chair of the NGO International Committee for Robots Arms Control.

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