The Challenges of Artificial Intelligence - Boundless Benefits – or the “Threat” of Runaway Machine Sentience?

  • Room: C147/148/154
Tuesday, May 09, 2017: 1:30 PM - 3:00 PM


Brian Nave
Robotics Expert
Francis Govers III
Chief Robotics Officer
Gamma2Robotics Inc.
Lucien Miller
President & CEO
Innov8tive Designs, Inc.
Seth Shostak
Senior Astronomer
SETI Institute
Thomas Atwood
Executive Director
National Robotics Education Foundation (NREF)


This debate-style session will address different kinds of artificial intelligence that are deemed feasible and clarify the remarkable differences of opinion that are held by researchers and computer scientists.  Will robots ever be developed that are as smart as people?  Will intelligent machines only benefit us or, on the other hand, will they pose existential threats to humanity? Exploring these questions entails defining terms that, as we will see, are themselves the subject of fierce debate. 

Panelists will look at the following questions and offer approaches to answering them:  What is known, today about the cognitive processes of simple biological organisms?  Do jumping spiders and other primitive animals possess “minds”?  Robots have been developed that are thought to be as complex and behaviorally capable as some insects. Will intelligent machines ever be able to compete, intellectually, with the human mind? 

Are computers as they are designed, today, at the beginning of a natural progression that will result in “thinking machines”?  Will machines ever achieve self-awareness or “sentience”?  If this is possible, what are the potential benefits, what are the risks, and how can we best manage the possible consequences of machine intelligence that is growing at an exponential rate?