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Moral Math of Robots: Can Life and Death Decisions be Coded?

Saturday, June 4, 2016
4:00 pm - 5:30 pm EST

A self-driving car has a split second to decide whether to turn into oncoming traffic or hit a child who has lost control of her bicycle. An autonomous drone needs to decide whether to risk the lives of busload of civilians or lose a long-sought terrorist. How does a machine make an ethical decision? Can it “learn” to choose in situations that would strain human decision making? Can morality be programmed? We will tackle these questions and more as the leading AI experts, roboticists, neuroscientists, and legal experts debate the ethics and morality of thinking machines.

This program is part of the Big Ideas Series, made possible with support from the John Templeton Foundation.


Bill BlakemoreNews Correspondent

Bill Blakemore became a reporter for ABC News 46 years ago, covering a wide variety of stories. He spearheaded ABC’s coverage of global warming, traveling from the tropics to polar regions to report on its impacts, dangers, and possible remedies.

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Fernando DiazComputer Scientist

Fernando Diaz is a senior researcher at Microsoft Research and a founding member of the MSR-NYC lab. Prior to joining Microsoft, Fernando was a senior scientist at Yahoo Research.

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Colonel Linell LetendreMilitary Officer, Law Professor

Colonel Linell Letendre is the permanent professor and Head of the Department of Law at the United States Air Force Academy.

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Gary MarcusCognitive Psychologist

Gary Marcus, scientist, bestselling author, and entrepreneur, is Professor of Psychology and Neural Science at NYU and CEO and Co-Founder of the recently-formed Geometric Intelligence, Inc.

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Matthias ScheutzRoboticist, Cognitive Scientist, Philosopher

Matthias Scheutz is a professor at Tufts University School of Engineerings Computer Science Department, and is director of the Human-Robot Interaction Laboratory.

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Wendell WallachBioethicist

Wendell Wallach is a consultant, ethicist, and scholar at Yale University’s Interdisciplinary Center for Bioethics. He is also a senior advisor to The Hastings Center, a fellow at the Center for Law, Science & Innovation at the Sandra Day O’Connor School of Law (Arizona State University), and a fellow at the Institute for Ethics & Emerging Technology.

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