Event Summary: Vulnerable Humanity, Predictable Machines Philosophy Symposium

Thanks to Alliance member Tim Holmes, co-host of the symposium, for providing this summary.

Co-directed by Merlin CCC (in conjunction with Dr. Barry Ferst, Professor of Philosophy at Carroll College, and Tim Holmes, internationally-renowned artist) and hosted by Carroll College Vulnerable Humanity, Predictable Machines was the first of three community events geared to initiate a public discussion about the human-technology relationship and the promises and perils of artificial intelligence (AI).  The free symposium took place in the Sage Room of the Corette Library at Carroll College in Helena, MT on Thursday, Nov. 17th 2016.  It was also live-streamed on the Depth Psychology Alliance network.

The interactive Q & A-style symposium was a rousing success, with the auditorium at full seating capacity (50 people) and overflow & standing room only (approx. 15 people).  It featured a distinguished panel of invited guest speakers from a variety of disciplines, including: Edward Gray, MA, LCPC (Depth Psychotherapist), Dr. Edward Glowienka, Ph.D. (Assistant Professor of Philosophy, Carroll College), Dr. Kelly Cline, Ph.D. (Astrophysicist & Associate Professor of Mathematics, Carroll College), and Pastor Russ Danaher (Pastor & ADA Coordinator, Montana Department of Corrections)

Following short presentations by each of the panelists, the floor was opened to the audience for response and questions, the majority of which concerned the positive and negative qualities of unpredictability, human vulnerability, and the programmable nature of such qualities into AI systems.  After the formal discussion about a dozen participants and two panelists carried on the conversation late into the night at a nearby pub.

The next symposium, intended for Spring 2017, will focus in greater depth on the human qualities we would like to preserve that technology may not recognize or honor, such as human need, feeling needed and reciprocity. Can elements critical to human fulfillment such as mystery be programed into AI? (Certainly engineers could program random mutation or "creative" recombination to generate new directions. But is it possible to program other elements of the unconscious, such as intuition or dream imagery?)


The Nov. 17 symposium is available for audio streaming https://merlinccc.org/category/merlin-forums-roundtables-archive/ and on the Merlin resources forum & lecture library page 

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