AI and Ethics

AI and Ethics December 29, 2021

I had hoped to be able to share the talk I gave to an audience primarily in Iran about artificial intelligence and theistic ethical reasoning. It will hopefully be made available online at some point. Apparently some 1,500 people watched the livestream. Here is a runthrough I recorded when timing myself. In the actual presentation I had to cut some material here. This also lacks the Farsi translation/summary of what I was saying.

I listened to the audiobook of Meghan O’Gieblyn’s phenomenal nonfiction book God, Human, Animal, Machine: Technology, Metaphor, and the Search for Meaning. I doubt you will find a comparable volume that is as well-versed in both theology and computer science. Among other things, O’Gieblyn reveals the Christian roots of transhumanism first in Dante and then more recently and directly in Pierre Teilhard de Chardin. I also listened to the science fiction novel Machinehood by S. B. Divya and highly recommend it. As you’d expect in a novel I recommend, it deals intelligently and in a serious way with technology, ethics, and religion.

There is a bit of breaking news about an algorithm that uses targeted ads to connect people not with companies selling products but with religious communities. Read about “Gloo” in the article on the IO9 website.

Also related to this topic: Eric Schwitzgebel writes, “What we should want, probably, is not that superintelligent AI align with our mixed-up, messy, and sometimes crappy values but instead that superintelligent AI have ethically good values. An ethically good superintelligent AI presumably wouldn’t destroy the environment for short-term gain, or nuke a city out of spite, or destroy humanity to maximize the number of paperclips. If there’s a conflict between what’s ethically best, or best all things considered, and what a typical human (or humanity or the AI’s designer) would want, have the AI choose what’s ethically best.” 

The BBC has an article about Alexa telling a girl who asked for a challenge to put a penny on a partially plugged in electrical plug (IO9 also covered this). Discover magazine had an article about human and AI ethical judgments converging. 3QuarksDaily had an article about whether AI needs to have free will to be held morally or legally accountable. Two articles from IO9 about the use of software in policing, why it perpetuated rather than eliminated longstanding bias (as it had been predicted to), and how this was determined. They also covered the objections of the United States to banning autonomous weapons. David Brin’s blog has touched on the topic of AI, as it often does. See also the Center for Theological Inquiry’s article “Theology in the Age of AI: Machine Intelligence & Pastoral Care” about their “Spiritual Loop Project.” See too:

Current Associate Editor Felicia Wu Song publishes Restless Devices: Recovering Personhood, Presence and Place in the Digital Age

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