Jul 4 / 2019
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[WATCH] Do you recognise a robot as a person? – David Gunkel

An exclusive interview with David Gunkel

The Malta A.I. and Blockchain Summit sat down with David Gunkel, Professor of Media Studies at the Northern Illinois University for an exclusive interview on the use cases for A.I. and the ethical considerations behind them.

Gunkel voiced his concern about the unrealistic expectations that exist when it comes to a practical, realistic performance and use, saying: “While it was once thought that A.I. would reach human grade intelligence, it’s clear that isn’t going to happen anytime soon, in fact it may never happen. What we do have though are really good devices that can do amazing things. Facebook’s facial recognition algorithm exceed’s most human capabilities, and AlphaZero’s algorithm at DeepMind can play any board game better than any human player – but that’s all they can do.

“We don’t have this artificial general inteligence that we were dreaming about, but these idiot savants that are really good at these specific kind of things. As we move from theory to practice we’re seeing this proliferation of these really specific uses of A.I. to get a job done.”

He also spoke about the need to take responsibility for some of the bigger challenges and questions advancing robotics present, emphasising the need to ensure boundaries do not become blurred.

“The robots that we are developing, the digital system and everything else we are familiar with, are pushing on those boundaries asking us to describe a social status that is a little different from what we used to – this eventually impinges on legal questions – do you recognise a robot as a person?”

“If you make these devices like social robots that come into our homes and we have social relationships with – what is their status? They’re not quite a thing, they’re not quite a person, who’s liable?” We don’t have a lot of example of things in our world that have that in-between kind of status. The question is whether we can always tie liability and accountability to a human being when you have machines enabling independent decision making.”

David Gunkel is Professor at the Northern Illinois University, author of Thinking Otherwise, The Machine Question, Of Remixology, Gaming the System, and Robot Rights.

Watch the full interview below:

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