Humanizing Machines: AI, Ethics and the Future

Shannon Vallor

Artificial intelligence poses profound ethical questions for humanity’s future. What will a world filled with intelligent machines mean for the human family? Will the immense benefits of AI be shared with us all, or reserved for an elite few? Can our collective humanity be enriched, expanded, refined and liberated by smart machines? Or will long-held ideals of a more humane future instead be degraded, marginalized and replaced by narrower machine values of optimization, prediction and ruthless efficiency? What would a future with humanized and humanizing technologies look like, and how can we get there?

Looking in the AI Mirror

Tuesday, February 20, 2018
11:10 am, Samuelson Chapel

Artificial intelligence is not a technology of the future, but of the present. We already reap immense benefits from AI systems, and they are already behaving badly: issuing judgments with harmful racial, gender and class biases; failing to “see” people at the margins of society; prioritizing efficiency over humane values; and exploiting unjust imbalances in power and privilege. These are familiar vices. Indeed, AI is a mirror reflecting images of our own humanity. In this talk, I explore what we can learn from the AI mirror and how the lessons can drive the development of a more humane future.

How to Cultivate Humane Machines (and People)

Tuesday, February 20, 2018
4:00 pm, Samuelson Chapel

The art of moral self-cultivation is perhaps the only unique capacity of our species, and failing to practice it has, today, increasingly devastating consequences on local and planetary scales. Reclaiming the art of cultivating our humanity—pushing ourselves toward ideals that lie beyond our present impulses and habits—may be essential to averting catastrophe for our species and for many others. I discuss how the creation of intelligent machines, including attempts to make them more humane, might serve as a source of inspiration for this endangered art.

Shannon Vallor

Shannon Vallor is the William J. Rewak, S.J. Professor of Philosophy at Santa Clara University, where she researches the ethics of emerging technologies. She is the author of Technology and the Virtues:  A Philosophical Guide to a Future Worth Wanting from Oxford University Press(2016) and editor of the forthcoming Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Technology. Her many awards include the 2015 World Technology Award in Ethics and multiple teaching honors. She serves on the board of the nonprofit Foundation for Responsible Robotics and regularly advises tech media, legislators, policymakers, investors, executives, engineers and design teams.

Pre-lecture Discussion

Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2018 at 11:25 am
Swenson 104

Join us for a discussion in anticipation of the Harold Stoner Clark Lectures. Faculty, staff, students and classes are welcome! The goal of this presentation and discussion is to familiarize everyone with the topics of the Feb. 20 lectures.

For more information please contact Brian Collins