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ECHO VOLUNTEER SPOTLIGHT- KATE MEYER

POSTED OCTOBER 3 AT 10:59 AM

ECHO's Mission is to Educate and Delight our…

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ROBOTS

Teachers of human nature or future overlords?


Topic 12:

Thursday, March 18 6:30 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.

The topic of robots is interesting, conjuring images from The Jetsons, Robocop, and AI. However, we face some major global challenges this century: war, climate change, terrorism, nuclear proliferation. Should we even be bothering to build intelligent machines? If we do, will they make matters worse, or help? How? Join Josh Bongard, Assistant Professor, Computer Science Department, UVM, as he leads us in conversation about his research in robotics. He'll be breaking the discussion into three parts:

Technical: What are robots; how far along are they?

Philosophical: What can robots tell us about human nature?

Ethical: Should we use robots to kill for us?


 

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...and yes, he promises he'll bring some actual robots and leave the photos at home.

A little about Josh:

Josh Bongard received his Bachelors degree in Computer Science from McMaster University, Canada, his Masters degree from the University of Sussex, UK, and his PhD from the University of Zurich, Switzerland. He served as a postdoctoral associate under Hod Lipson in the Computational Synthesis Laboratory at Cornell University from 2003 to 2006. He is the co-author of the popular science book entitled "How the Body Shapes the Way We Think: A New View of Intelligence," MIT Press, November 2006 (with Rolf Pfeifer). Currently, he is an assistant professor in the Computer Science Department at the University of Vermont. His research interests focus on robotics, and he was named both a Microsoft Research New Faculty Fellow in 2006, as well as a member of the TR35: MIT Technology Review's top 35 innovators under the age of 35.
 

Here are some questions to get you thinking about the topic:

  1. What makes a person intelligent?
  2. Are primates intelligent? How about human children? Infants? Dogs? Simple animals? Bacteria? Plants? Rocks? Where should we draw the line?
  3. Which (if any) of the above are conscious?
  4. In the '80s, people feared that computers would put large numbers of people out of work. Many predict that in this decade and the next, robots may start to do the same. What do you think?
  5. Could a machine ever be intelligent? Conscious? Could a machine exhibit free will? How would we know?
  6. With all of the above mentioned global challenges are robots a part of the solution or the problem? Is it black-and-white? Should we utilize robots in certain areas and avoid integrating them in others? As an example, the US military is already using unmanned aerial vehicles such as Predator Drone to kill in Pakistan. Where do we draw the line between protecting human lives by using robots and sending highly-efficient machines in to destroy enemies and threats?

Research topics for the event that might be of interest to you.

 

Café Scientifique is sponsored by:
Sigma Xi

 

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