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Presenter: Prof. Dr. Virgina Dignum

Abstract: Artificial Intelligence (AI) has huge potential to bring accuracy, efficiency, cost savings and speed to a whole range of human activities and to provide entirely new insights into behaviour and cognition. However, the way AI is developed and deployed for a great part determines how AI will impact our lives and societies. For instance, automated classification systems can deliver prejudiced results and therefore raise questions about privacy and bias; and, the autonomy of intelligent systems, such as, e.g. self-driving vehicles, raises concerns about safety and responsibility. AI’s impact concerns not only the research and development directions for AI, but also how these systems are introduced into society and used in everyday situations. There is a large debate concerning how the use of AI will influence labour, well-being, social interactions, health care, income distribution and other social areas. Dealing with these issues requires that ethical, legal, societal and economic implications are taken into account.

In this presentation, I will discuss how a responsible approach to the development and use of AI can be achieved, and how current approaches to ensure the ethical alignment of decisions made or supported by AI systems can benefit from the social perspective embedded in feminist and non-Western philosophies, in particular the Ubuntu philosophy.

Short bio: Virgina Dignum is professor in social and ethical AI, and Wallenberg chair on Responsible Artificial Intelligence. Scientific Director of WASP-HS (Humanities and Society) at Umeå University in Sweden. Her research focuses on the complex interconnections and interdependencies between people, organizations and technology. Her work ranges from the engineering of practical applications and simulations to the development of formal theories that integrate agency and organization, and includes a strong methodological design component. My current research directions are:

  • Responsible artificial intelligence. Which moral and ethical issues arise from the activity of autonomous intelligent agents in teams? How can activity be regulated? How can intelligent agents and other synthetic entities reason about and take decisions on moral questions.
  • Analyze and formalization of social interaction. The aim is to study the effect of social and organizational structure taking into account the autonomy and heterogeneity of participants and the societal and legal values holding in the context. To this end, we are developing formal theories and a computational architecture for agent deliberation based on social-practices.
  • Design and evaluation of human-agent teamwork. Central research question here is how do people interact (negotiate, trust, cooperate) with autonomous cognitive entities in a social setting and the development of agent-based simulations of complex socio-technical domains.

More about Virgina and her research can be found at:

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