Sunday, October 28, 2018

AI and robots may live next door, but they are not your neighbors

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Treating others as you would like to be treated may be a societal standard, but it shouldn’t be applied to artificial intelligence and robots, says Jaron Lanier.

The scientist, technologist, author, artist and musician known as the father of virtual reality, says anthropomorphizing AI and robots is actually bad for them – and for us. When we think about code or the hardware as being creatures like us, we must respect them, as they are, if we are to remain compassionate human beings, Lanier says.

Jaron Lanier, a scientist, technologist, author, artist and musician known as the father of virtual reality, will speak at Dawn or Doom. (Photo by Doug Menuez) Download image

He will discuss how this hobbles the development and application of the technologies on Nov. 6 during Purdue University’s annual Dawn or Doom conference, which features talks by more than three dozen Purdue faculty members and national experts. Lanier also will touch on how taking a different approach could quell fears that AI and robots will eventually replace us.

“In particular, the economy would work better,” Lanier says, “because we’d allow ourselves to see the new ways people are creating value online.”

Designed to kick-start conversations on the risks and rewards of emerging technologies, Dawn or Doom will be held on Purdue’s West Lafayette campus Monday and Tuesday, Nov. 5-6. The two-day conference, now in its fifth year, is free and open to the public. Lanier’s talk and Dawn or Doom ’18 are part of the Ideas Festival theme “Giant Leaps in Artificial Intelligence, Algorithms, and Automation: Balancing Humanity and Technology.” The Ideas Festival is the centerpiece of Purdue’s Giant Leaps Sesquicentennial Campaign. The Ideas Festival connects world-renowned speakers and Purdue expertise in a conversation on the most critical problems and opportunities facing the world.’

Leading national authorities like Lanier, named one of the world’s 100 most influential people by Time, and stars from Purdue’s constellation of researchers focused on innovations that will transform thinking and lives are set to discuss topics in four tracks at Dawn or Doom ’18, including:

* Machines: artificial intelligence, robotics, autonomous vehicles and drones.

* Mind: internet and social media effects.

* Body: bioengineering and human design.

* Data: Internet of Things, privacy and cybersecurity.

* Lanier will present “The Concept of AI Harms the Technologies Created Under Its Banner” at 5:30 p.m. on Nov. 6 in Stewart Center’s Fowler Hall. In addition to Lanier, whose latest book is “10 Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now,” some of the other featured speakers include:

* Nicholas Carr, Pulitzer finalist and author of “The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains,” will present “Nasty, Brutish and Dumb: Humans and Their Phones” at 5:30 p.m. on Nov. 5 in Stewart Center’s Fowler Hall.

* Naomi Grewal, global head of Insights at Pinterest, will present “The Age of Personalization: How Technology Enables More Custom Experiences” at 1 p.m. on Nov. 5 in Stewart Center’s Fowler Hall.

* Frank Pasquale, law professor and expert on the law of artificial intelligence, algorithms and machine learning, will present “The Promise and Threat of Algorithmic Governance” at 2:15 p.m. on Nov. 5 in Stewart Center’s Fowler Hall.

* Thomas Frey, futurist, AI positivist and founder and executive director of the DaVinci Institute, will present “Future Education: Using AI to Turn the Coming wave of Disruption into an Opportunity” at 3:30 p.m. on Nov. 5 in Stewart Center’s Fowler Hall.

* George Anders, senior editor at LinkedIn and author of “You Can Do Anything: The Remarkable Power of a ‘Useless’ Liberal Arts Education,” will present “Work’s Provocative Future: How to Outwit Those Job-Killing Robots” at 10 a.m. on Nov. 5 in Stewart Center’s Fowler Hall.

Dawn or Doom, which attracted nearly 6,000 attendees in 2017, is more than just talk. Among other things, the conference also includes interactive displays of virtual and augmented reality technology at Purdue’s Envision Center; artificial intelligence demonstrations from Cisco; and a technology-themed art exhibit by artist Bjoern Scheulke, whose work deals with cameras, drones, surveillance and robotics. For more information and a complete schedule, visit: Registration is not required, but visitors can register to receive conference updates.

Dawn or Doom ’18 also features related events such as a student research symposium and a technology-themed writing contest; panel discussions on the Big Read common reading program selection “The Underground Railroad” and on the future of work; a student technology expo; a national technology journalists’ panel; and more.

Dawn or Doom is sponsored by Information Technology at Purdue, Presidio, Cisco, Hewlett Packard Enterprise,  Pier Group, Epi-Use, Wintek and Purdue Convocations. 

Writer: Greg Kline, Information Technology at Purdue, 765-494-8167 (o), 765-426-8545 (m), gkline@purdue.ed 

Media contact: Steve Tally, Purdue News Service, 765-494-9809,

Note to Journalists: Photo and video coverage will be allowed only during the first 5-7 minutes during Jaron Lanier’s talk “The Concept of AI Harms the Technologies Created Under Its Banner” on Nov. 6. Photo and video coverage cannot include flash or extra lights.

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