About the Robot Souls? course
Can we program soul into robots, and should we?
Two of the biggest design problems in AI are how to build robots that behave in line with human values, and how to stop them ever going rogue. One solution to these problems is to take a closer look at how these are already addressed in the design of humans.
Looking closely at the human blueprint, it contains a suite of capacities that are so clumsy they have generally been kept away from AI.
It was assumed that robots with features like emotions and intuition, that made mistakes and looked for meaning and purpose, would not work as well as robots without this kind of code. But on considering why all these irrational properties are there, it seems that they emerge from the source code of soul. Because it is actually this ‘junk’ code that makes us human and promotes the kind of reciprocal altruism that keeps humanity alive and thriving.
This course will introduce this idea of ‘junk code’ and invite participants to reflect on what they think of AI. It will provide an opportunity to demystify what is being portrayed as a very alarming phenomenon, and to think hard about our own design. There will be time for discussion on what might make humans distinctive enough to deserve to prevail, even as the capacities of AI cast into question many of the ways in which we see ourselves as having a privileged place in the world.
About the Tutor
Dr Eve Poole OBE is interim Chief Executive of the Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland. She has written several books, including Robot Souls and Leadersmithing, which was Highly Commended in the 2018 Business Book Awards. She holds a BA from Durham, an MBA from Edinburgh, and a PhD in theology and capitalism from Cambridge.
For 15 years she taught leadership at Ashridge Business School, pioneering a new approach to the neurobiological development of leaders. Before Ashridge, she worked for the Church Commissioners and for Deloitte Consulting, where she specialised in change management for the Financial Services sector. She was Interim CEO of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 2022, Third Church Estates Commissioner from 2018-2021, and the first female Chairman of Gordonstoun from 2015-2021. She is a regular contributor to Thought for the Day on BBC Radio Scotland. You can follow her on twitter @evepoole and at http://evepoole.com/