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Artificial Intelligence Seminar To Consider Religious and Ethical Implications of Research
A publicity photograph of Rodney Brooks in his laboratory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) shows him shaking hands with a humanoid robot. The two figures seem to represent perfectly the title of the seminar Brooks will address on 31 May at AAAS -- "Flesh and Machines."
Brooks, director of the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory and Fuzitsu Professor of Computer Science at MIT, will discuss his work in artificial intelligence and humanoid robotics at 6:00 p.m. in the 2nd floor auditorium at AAAS, 1200 New York Avenue, NW, in Washington, DC. He will be joined by Noreen Herzfeld, a theologian and associate professor of computer science at St. John's University in Collegeville, MN. The two speakers will discuss the underlying philosophical principles that guide the development of artificial intelligence, and consider how new discoveries might affect the future of humanity.
The seminar is one of a series organized by the AAAS Program of Dialogue on Science, Ethics, and Religion (DoSER).
Explaining how research into artificial intelligence relates to the DoSER Program, senior program associate Jim Miller says that if Brooks and his colleagues succeed in creating a working humanoid robot, "they will introduce a non-biological species into society."
"What status would such a species have?" Miller asks. "Having such entities around has religious and ethical implications."
Also, Miller adds, "This research is based upon certain assumptions about what it means to be human. And these assumptions about what it is to be a sentient, cognitive creature raise broader cultural and ethical issues."
The "Flesh and Machines" seminar is open to the public. More information on DoSER and its seminar series is available from the AAAS Science & Policy Website.