Shannon Vallor: 2017 Plenary Session


Tuesday, April 11, 2017
Location: McCaw Hall, Arrillaga Alumni Center

"AI's Ethical Imperative: How to Humanize Machine Values"



The rapid emergence of task-specific AI across a broad range of new applications and social contexts creates an unprecedented ethical imperative for AI researchers, designers, and users, and for the institutions that employ them. This is the imperative to create robust structures, norms, and incentives that can be counted on to promote responsible AI design, development, and implementation, in ways that realize AI's full potential to enrich, rather than degrade, the future quality of existence for the human family. Meeting this imperative requires that we improve our understanding of the relationship between machine values commonly reflected in AI design (such as optimality, speed, readability, reliability, and invulnerability), and human values (such as justice, compassion, creativity, liberty, and self-realization) that are harder to operationalize and more closely tied to the complexity of human experience and sociality. Using concrete examples drawn from emerging and prospective applications of AI research, this talk will demonstrate how these different value profiles can be harmonized and made complementary (rather than antagonistic), by means of wise and ethical choices in AI design and implementation.


Shannon Vallor is the William J. Rewak, S.J. Professor and Chair of the Department of Philosophy at Santa Clara University, where her research and teaching addresses the ethical implications of emerging science and technology, especially AI, robotics and new media. Professor Vallor received the 2015 World Technology Award in Ethics from the World Technology Network. She is President of the international Society for Philosophy and Technology, serves on the Executive Board of the Foundation for Responsible Robotics, and is a member of the IEEE Standards Association's Global Initiative for Ethical Considerations in the Design of Autonomous Systems. Professor Vallor has a special interest in the integration of ethics with software industry and engineering/computer science education, and engages in outreach on this subject with a range of stakeholders within and outside academia, including government, industry, law, media, and public policy professionals and advocates. She is the recent author of Technology and the Virtues: A Philosophical Guide to a Future Worth Wanting (Oxford University Press, 2016).