Innovations Talk - Joanna Bryson

The Moral, Legal, and Economic Hazard of Anthropomorphising Robots and AI

Humans have dominated this planet’s ecosystem by learning to share and consolidate the outcome of their computation in an unprecedented way. Now we have augmented this processing with artificial intelligence (AI) and other information communications technology (ICT). The impact on our society is so spectacular that our institutions are struggling to keep pace, including the social sciences that might help us understand the promises and risks of our new situation. In this talk I will describe the theoretical biology of increasing communication between intelligent agents, and suggest changes to our individual, collective, political, and economic behaviour that might be consequences of the increasing presence of artificial intelligence (AI) in our lives. Anthropomorphising – that is, over identifying with, and / or facilitating such overidentification – in most cases only exacerbates the complexity of forming coherent policy around these consequences. I will close with a series of policy recommendations concerning governance of and legal status for intelligent ICT, economic redistribution, individual and collective security, and intellectual diversity.


About Joanna Bryson

Joanna Bryson is a Reader (tenured Associate Professor) at the University of Bath, and an affiliate of Princeton’s Center for Information Technology Policy (CITP). She has broad academic interests in the structure and utility of intelligence, both natural and artificial. Venues for her research range from reddit to Science. She is best known for her work in systems AI and AI ethics, both of which she began during her PhD in the 1990s, but she and her colleagues publish broadly, in biology, anthropology, sociology, philosophy, cognitive science, and politics. She holds degrees in Psychology from Chicago and Edinburgh, and in Artificial Intelligence from Edinburgh and MIT. At Bath she founded the Intelligent Systems research group (one of four in the Department of Computer Science) and heads their Artificial Models of Natural Intelligence.

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