Research event

The role of humans in an age of intelligent machines

A presentation by Joanna Bryson (Hertie School). This event is part of the Digital Governance Research Colloquium hosted by the Centre for Digital Governance and the Data Science LabPrior registration is not required.

Artificial intelligence (AI) and the information age are bringing us more knowledge about ourselves and each other than any society has ever known. Yet at the same time, it creates machines which are seemingly more capable of every human endeavour than any human could be. What are the limits of AI and of intelligence and humanity more broadly? What are our ethical obligations to machines? Do these alter our obligations to each other? What is the basis for these social obligations? In this talk I will argue that there are really only two problems that humanity (or any other species) has to solve. These are sustainability and inequality, or put another way, security and power. Or put a third way, how big can we make the pie and how do we slice that pie up? Life is not a zero-sum game; we and many other species use the security of sociality to construct public goods where everyone benefits. But still, every individual needs enough of the pie in order to thrive and this is the challenge of inequality. I will argue that understanding these processes is not only essential to surviving the challenges of the climate crisis, but also helps us answer the fundamental questions of ethics and social obligation. I will also examine how AI is presently affecting both of these problems. I will close with concrete policy recommendations for managing AI and our society. 

Joanna Bryson will join the Hertie School in February 2020 as Professor of Ethics and Technology. Her research focuses on the impact of technology on human cooperation, and AI/ICT governance. From 2002-19 she was part of the Computer Science faculty at the University of Bath. She has also been affiliated with the Department of Psychology at Harvard University, the Department of Anthropology at the University of Oxford, the School of Social Sciences at the University of Mannheim and the Princeton Center for Information Technology Policy. During her PhD she observed the confusion generated by anthropomorphised AI, leading to her first AI ethics publication “Just Another Artifact” in 1998. In 2010, she co-authored the first national-level AI ethics policy, the UK's Principles of Robotics. She holds degrees in psychology and artificial intelligence from the University of Chicago (Bachelor of Arts), the University of Edinburgh (Master of Science and Master of Philosophy), and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (PhD).

Prior registration is not required.