Does AI pose a threat to society? Full house for British Academy Debate

Issue date: 23 February 2017

Robotic head

Wednesday 1 March, 18.30-20.00, UWE Exhibition and Conference Centre

Alan Winfield, Professor of Robot Ethics at UWE Bristol will call for greater regulation of AI and awareness of safety and ethical concerns at a free event debating the hot topic of whether robots will ever take over from humans.

Advances in robotics and AI are changing how we do business, engage in warfare, and even have relationships. While some people welcome the rise of driverless cars, smart fridges and delivery drones, many worry about the ethics of machines taking on complex roles.

Does AI pose a threat to society? is the latest event in a series of free British Academy Debates in partnership with the Royal Society, exploring how robotics and artificial intelligence could revolutionise society. Such is the public interest in the event, that the debate is now fully booked.

More information about the event:

Does AI pose a threat to society?

The idea of a robotic takeover - a staple of Hollywood sci-fi - taps into the fear that machines will eventually surpass humans in general intelligence. Yet does artificial intelligence really pose a risk to society, especially when current technology is nowhere near those sci-fi scenarios and when AI offers many opportunities, in areas ranging from transportation to medicine? We ask whether recent developments in AI technology raise fresh concerns, if these fears are justified, and how they might be addressed.

Chair: Dr Claire Craig, Director of Policy, The Royal Society
Speakers: Professor Christian List FBA, Professor of Political Science and Philosophy, LSE; Professor Maja Pantic, Professor of Affective and Behavioural Computing, Imperial College London; Samantha Payne, CEO, Open Bionics; Professor Alan Winfield, Professor of Robot Ethics, Bristol Robotics Laboratory, UWE Bristol.

Professor Winfield says, “Although we don't need to worry about out-of-control super intelligence, we should be concerned about down to earth questions of present day rather unintelligent AIs; the ones that are deciding our loan applications or piloting driverless cars. Are those AIs respecting our rights, including privacy? Are they safe? And when AIs make bad decisions, can we find out why? “

Professor Patrick Haggard FBA, member of the British Academy's Robotics, AI and Society steering group said, “Humans have created and used machines since earliest times, but the autonomy and ability of these machines have recently increased dramatically. There is now a pressing need to understand how robotics and AI will shape our future, and to consider how we can use these developments for the greatest benefit of all. The British Academy Debates will bring together different disciplines and groups to examine how robots, AI and society will interact in the 21st century.”

This event is fully booked.The waitlist for this event is also full. A recording of the Debate will available to watch after the event at:

Follow the discussion on social media by following @britac_news and using the hashtag #bigdebates.

Back to top