([Yesterday’s Sunday London] Times) How do we stop the robot takeover? Oxford dons have a plan

On a dank Friday night in Oxford, an ambassador from the Vatican addresses a gathering of philosophers. The location is St Luke’s Chapel, its walls crisp and whitewashed, its glass windows stained. The father ponders Aristotle’s insights on the good life.

But for the invocation for audience members to tweet about the event, this might be a scene from the 15th century. Yet the subject matter under discussion could not be more contemporary: robots and what to do about them.

Father Paolo Benanti, the speaker, is the Pope’s adviser on artificial intelligence. His urgent message to the assembled boffins, fellows of the newly created Institute for Ethics in AI at Oxford University, is that we are in danger of becoming an “algocracy”, a society ruled by algorithms. “We must recognise how order is made, how power is shifted by these new tools,” Benanti pleads. “What rights do we want to sacrifice in the name of efficiency?”

These questions posed by Benanti are anything but academic. Much of our life, from what books we buy to what news we consume, is already heavily influenced by algorithms. But the past two years have seen a quantum leap in the quality and sophistication of artificial intelligence. We have entered what many experts are now describing as a golden age of AI.

Read it all(subscription).


Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Science & Technology