Artificial Intelligence and the
Future of Humanity Project 2017-19
AI and the Future of Humanity Project 2017-19, funded by Templeton World Charity Foundation (TWCF)
Artificial Intelligence (AI) has entered a new era in which machines are no longer constrained by programming, but exhibit self-learning capabilities with ever increasing speed and capacity. The aim of Artificial Intelligence at its most ambitious is to achieve a “Singularity”, or Artificial General Intelligence – i.e., to outstrip human intelligence. Future goals of AI research speculate about the possibility of a “transhuman” condition—in other words, enhanced humanity. In this project we aimed to draw the humanities into the debates and critiques of these ambitions.
So far the debates about the impact of AI and critiques of AI’s influence have been largely confined within the disciplines of computer science, social sciences and economics, and therefore primarily quantitative in emphasis. This is clearly visible in texts such as Martin Rees’s Our Final Century (2003), Ray Kurzweil’s The Age of Spiritual Machines (1999), Nick Bostrom’s Superintelligence – Paths, Dangers, Strategies (2014), and Murray Shanahan’s Technological Singularity (2015). There is an urgent need for well-informed qualitative assessments of the potential impact of AI from the humanities.
Artificial General Intelligence (AGI) works on the hypothesis that technology will replicate, and even outstrip, not only human intelligence generally, but specific human faculties such as imagination, consciousness, and agency. To what extent will these ambitions match, challenge, demoralise, or perhaps even aid these faculties as understood by disciplines within the humanities, including those that deal with moral and spiritual dimensions of life?
The goal of this project was to explore this and related questions through a series of conferences that brought together representatives of AI research along with scholars from the broad span of the humanities.
Outputs of the Project
The outputs of the Project include three major conferences; conference reports (see below); short films featuring Q&A with speakers (links below); and a range of journalism.
AI in Science Fiction Film and Literature - Conference Report
Read about the ideas discussed at the conference here: AI in Sci Fi – Science and Human Dimension Project Conference Report
The Singularity Summit - Conference Report
An overview of the talks and discussions at the conference: Singularity Summit – Science and Human Dimension Project Conference Report
AI: Ethical and Religious Perspectives - Conference Report
Summary of the talks and discussions: AI Ethical and Religious Perspectives - Science and Human Dimension Project Conference Report