"Ethical Policy-Making in an AI-driven World: existential risks, unimaginable wealth, and new roles for human minds"

Event Date

1115 11th Street, Sacramento and by Zoom webinar

Talk by Professor Martin Hilbert from UC Davis Department of Communication.

The 70-year long AI winter has erupted into a full-blooming spring when ChatGPT became the fastest diffusing invention in history in early 2023. Large Language Models have joined an ever increasing variety of artificial intelligences that have not only passed the historical Turing test (are indistinguishable from humans), but are currently algorithmifying all kinds of human and societal processes. At the core is the automation of the knowledge process. It has thrown the species of Homo sapiens into an existential identity crisis and put it on a crossroads that is often likened to humankind’s historical achievement of mastering fire: both awfully dangerous and exceptionally beneficial. On the upside, there is unimaginable wealth that could be reaped from the automation of the intelligence paradigm that has been pursued by humanity so far. On the downside, existential risks emerge not only from unintelligible AI, but also from unintended consequences of the current mass deployment of (unavoidably) incomplete AI algorithms that compete for narrow goal fulfillment. As these technologies are extensions of the human mind, maintaining control will also require the human mind to evolve to a new level. Professor Hilbert’s talk discusses the implications of these tradeoffs.

Professor Martin Hilbert is a Professor at UC Davis, where he chairs the campus-wide emphasis in Computational Social Sciences. He holds doctorates in Economic and Social Sciences (2006) and in Communication (2012). His work is recognized in academia for the first study that assessed how much information there is in the world; in public policy for designing the first digital action plan with the governments of Latin America and the Caribbean at the United Nations; and in the popular media for alerting the intervention of Cambridge Analytica in Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign a year before the scandal broke. His work has been published in academic journals including Science, Psychological Development, and World Development and regularly appears in popular magazines. Before joining academia, Professor Hilbert served as Economic Affairs Officer for the UN Secretariat for 15 years, where he created the Information Society Program for Latin America and the Caribbean. 

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