June 4, 2010

Speaking at the H+ Summit at Harvard, June 11-12

I'll be at the H+ Summit @ Harvard during the weekend of June 11-12 and I hope to see you there. The Summit is an educational, and scientific outreach event that covers the themes of the impact of technology on the human condition. It is hosted, and organized by the Harvard College Future Society, in cooperation with Humanity+.

Tickets are still available, so register now.

Weaving in futurism, technoprogressivism and transhumanism, the H+ Summit is part of a larger cultural conversation about what it means to be human and, ultimately, more than human. This issue lies at the heart of the transhumanist movement -- and a common topic on this blog.

Key speakers include Ray Kurzweil, Aubrey de Gray, Stephen Wolfram and Ronald Bailey.

Oh, and little old me.

Here's the title and abstract of my talk:

When the Turing Test is not enough: Towards a functionalist determination of personhood and the advent of an authentic machine ethics

Abstract: Empirical research that works to identify those characteristics requisite for the identification of nonhuman persons are proving increasingly insufficient, particularly as neuroscientists further refine functionalist models of cognition. To say that an agent "appears" to have awareness or intelligence is inadequate. Rather, what is required is the discovery and understanding of those processes in the brain that are responsible for capacities such as self-awareness, empathy and emotion. Subsequently, the shift to a neurobiological basis for personhood will have implications for those hoping to develop self-aware artificial intelligence and brain emulations. The Turing Test alone cannot identify machine consciousness; instead, computer scientists will need to work off the functionalist model and be mindful of those processes that produce awareness. Because the potential to do harm is significant, an effective and accountable machine ethics needs to be considered. Ultimately, it is our responsibility as citizen-scientists to develop a rigorous understanding of personhood so that we can identify and work with machine minds in the most compassionate and considerate manner possible.

See you there!

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