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RI Seminar


Alex John London Clara L. West Professor of Ethics and Philosophy, Director of the Center for Ethics & Policy Carnegie Mellon University
Friday, April 13
3:30 pm to 4:30 pm
Newell-Simon Hall 1305
From Automation to Autonomy and the Ubiquity of Moral Decision Making

Abstract:  I argue that there is an important sense in which all decisions are moral decisions and I explore some implications of this insight (and its denial) for the design and human impacts of increasingly complex automated systems and emerging autonomous systems.  This insight is obscured when we think about automated systems by the social division of labor between designers and users.  When we think about autonomous systems it is obscured by a misplaced focus on moral dilemmas (e.g., trolly problems).  I will discuss different roles for moral values in decision making (e.g., as filters on choice, as utilities, and as defaults), how those values are encoded in social practices in which automated systems are imbedded and deep challenges to making autonomous systems that can navigate them intelligently.

Bio:  Alex John London is the Clara L. West Professor of Ethics and Philosophy and Director of the Center for Ethics and Policy at Carnegie Mellon University. Professor London is an elected Fellow of the Hastings Center whose work focuses on ethical and policy issues surrounding the development and deployment of novel technologies in medicine, biotechnology and artificial intelligence, methodological issues in theoretical and practical ethics, and cross-national issues of justice and fairness. His papers have appeared in Science, Mind, JAMA, The Lancet, PLoS Medicine, IEEE Intelligent Systems, and numerous other journals and collections.  He has served as an ethics expert in consultations with numerous national and international organizations including U.S. National Institutes of Health, the U.S. National Academy of Medicine, the World Health Organization, the World Medical Association, and the World Bank.

Host: Michael Wagner

Point of Contact: Stephanie Matvey (smatvey@andrew.cmu.edu)