Lecture on November 10, 2021
Why We Need Ethics in AI
Prof. Dr. John Tasioulas (University of Oxford, UK)
About the lecture [stream]
Ethics is inescapable for thinking critically about the challenges and opportunities created by AI-based technologies. Central to ethics are the topics of the nature of human flourishing and what we morally owe to others. The importance of ethics is sometimes missed through the adoption of an unduly diminished conception of the ethical - one limited to a sub-set of ethical values, or contrasted with politics, or associated with 'soft' forms of regulation. The paper argues for a more expansive conception of ethics, one with a fundamental significance for our practical thought about AI. It also argues that there is a dominant ethical paradigm in thinking about AI, or at least one that is highly influential among elite actors in the AI domain - this is a broadly preference-based utilitarianism, such as that presupposed in AI scientist Stuart Russell's recent book, Human Compatible. In contrast to this conception of ethics, which has strong affinities with modes of thought in science and economics, the paper argues for the need for a more humanistic approach to the ethics of AI, one that contains at least the following components: (a) an emphasis on the plurality of values and the existence of incommensurable conflicts among them; (b) the importance of the value of procedures, and not just outcomes, in assessing the deployment of automated modes of decision-making, and (c) the vital significance of participation, both as an element of the good life and as a moral-political demand. The paper concludes with some thoughts on how the advent of Artificial General Intelligence may impact on this humanistic ethic.
About the speaker
John Tasioulas is the inaugural Director for the Institute for Ethics and AI, and Professor of Ethics and Legal Philosophy, Faculty of Philosophy, University of Oxford. He was previously the inaugural Chair of Politics, Philosophy & Law and Director of the Yeoh Tiong Lay Centre for Politics, Philosophy & Law at The Dickson Poon School of Law, Kings College London. Professor Tasioulas has degrees in Law and Philosophy from the University of Melbourne, and a D.Phil in Philosophy from the University of Oxford, where he studied as a Rhodes Scholar. He was previously a Lecturer in Jurisprudence at the University of Glasgow, Reader in Moral and Legal Philosophy at the University of Oxford, where he taught from 1998-2010, and Quain Professor of Jurisprudence at University College London. He has also acted as a consultant on human rights for the World Bank and is a member of the International Advisory Board of the European Parliament's Panel for the Future of Science and Technology (STOA). He has published widely in moral, legal, and political philosophy.
photo credit: Keiko Ikeuchi
Wednesday, 10. November 2021, 18:15-19:45 (CET)
poster lecture John Tasioulas [pdf]
programme "Taming the Machines" [pdf] in winter 2021/22