How to Survive the Robot Apocalypse

April 4, 2016

David Gunkel, Robot Apocalypse

The Science, Technology, and Society Program (STS) is hosting David Gunkel, Professor of Communication Studies at Northern Illinois University, to discuss “How to Survive the Robot Apocalypse.” Prof. Gunkel has written widely on artificial intelligence, robotics, and philosophy, and is the managing editor and co-founder of the International Journal of Žižek Studies and co-editor of a book series Digital Game Studies.

The Colloquiem will be held at 2pm on Friday, April 8, in the Rodman Room in Thornton Hall.

Abstract: Whether we recognize it or not, we are in the midst of a robot invasion. Machines are now everywhere and doing everything. As these devices increasingly come to occupy influential positions in contemporary culture—positions where they are not just tools or instruments of human action but social actors in their own right—we will need to ask ourselves some rather difficult questions: At what point might a robot, an algorithm, or other autonomous system be held accountable for the decisions it makes or the actions it deploys? When, in other words, would it make sense to say “It’s the computer’s fault?” Likewise, at what point might we have to seriously consider extending something like rights—civil, moral and legal standing—to these socially active devices? When, in other words, would it no longer be considered non-sense to suggest something like “rights for machines?” In this presentation, I demonstrate why it not only makes sense to talk about these things but also why avoiding this subject could have significant moral consequences.