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Shannon Vallor: How to Reclaim Our Humanity in the Age of AI

Thursday 20th June

Pilrig St. Paul's Church, 1B Pilrig St, Edinburgh EH6 5AH
Doors Open
Start Time

Please note, this event is now taking place at Pilrig St. Paul's Church, 1B Pilrig St, Edinburgh EH6 5AH.

How can we reclaim our humanity in an age of machine thinking?

Join us this June to celebrate publication of Shannon Vallor's latest work The AI Mirror, one of the most important books we can read right now to find our way through the AI-hype headlines and harness its power to reinvigorate our sense of human agency and possibility.

The AI Mirror

For many, technology offers hope for the future—that promise of shared human flourishing and liberation that always seems to elude our species. Artificial intelligence (AI) technologies spark this hope in a particular way. They promise a future in which human limits and frailties are finally overcome—not by us, but by our machines.

Yet rather than open new futures, today's powerful AI technologies reproduce the past. Forged from oceans of our data into immensely powerful but flawed mirrors, they reflect the same errors, biases, and failures of wisdom that we strive to escape. Our new digital mirrors point backward. They show only where the data say that we have already been, never where we might venture together for the first time.

To meet today's grave challenges to our species and our planet, we will need something new from AI, and from ourselves.

Shannon Vallor makes a wide-ranging, prophetic, and philosophical case for what AI could be: a way to reclaim our human potential for moral and intellectual growth, rather than lose ourselves in mirrors of the past. Rejecting prophecies of doom, she encourages us to pursue technology that helps us recover our sense of the possible, and with it the confidence and courage to repair a broken world. Vallor calls us to rethink what AI is and can be, and what we want to be with it.

About Shannon Vallor

Shannon Vallor is the Baillie Gifford Professor in the Ethics of Data and Artificial Intelligence in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Edinburgh, where she directs the Centre for Technomoral Futures in the Edinburgh Futures Institute. She is a Fellow of the Alan Turing Institute and former AI Ethicist at Google. Her work explores how new technologies reshape human moral and intellectual character and includes advising government and industry on the ethical design and use of AI. She is the author of Technology and the Virtues: A Philosophical Guide to a Future Worth Wanting (Oxford, 2016).

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