Voices in AI – Episode 32: A Conversation with Alan Winfield

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In this episode, Byron and Alan talk about robot ethics, military robots, emergence, consciousness, and self-awareness.

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Byron Reese: This is Voices in AI, brought to you by Gigaom. I’m Byron Reese. Today our guest is Alan Winfield. Alan Winfield is a professor of robot ethics at the University of West England. He has so many credentials, I don’t even know where to start. He’s a member of the World Economic Forum Council on the Future of Technology, Values and Policy. He’s a member of the Ethics Advisory Board for the Human Brain Project, and a number more. He sits on multiple editorial boards, such as the Journal of Experimental and Theoretical Artificial Intelligence, and he’s the associate editor of Frontiers in Evolutionary Robotics. Welcome to the show, Alan.

Alan Winfield: Hello, Byron, great to be here.

So, I bet you get the same first question every interview you do: What is a robot ethicist?

Well, these days, I do, yes. I think the easiest, simplest way to sum it up is someone who worries about the ethical and societal implications or consequences of robotics and AI. So, I’ve become a kind of professional worrier.

I guess that could go one of three ways. Is it ethics of how we use robots, is it the ethics of how the robots behave, or is it the ethics of… Well, I’ll just go with those two. What do you think more about?

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