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Being Human in the Information Age

Public lecture: Alan Winfield, Professor of Electronic Engineering and Director of the Science Communication Unit at the University of the West of England, “Where is Robotics Going?” or “The Ethical Roboticist” (Thursday 15 March 2012)

In his talk Professor Winfield explored the future of robotics, which is currently receiving a great deal of attention. The reason for this owes much to the fact that robots have a significant place in our cultural imagination. Thus roboticists find themselves having to address fears and fascinations that often have little to do with the reality of robotics. The lecture discussed the question of robotic futures by – as far as possible – unpicking the fantastical and the plausible. Like any transformative technology, intelligent robotics has the potential for huge benefit, but is not without risk. Seventy years ago Asimov created his fictional laws of robotics and Professor Winfield suggested that it is now time for a revision. He argued, that while it makes no sense to talk about how present-day or near-future robots can be ethical, he outlined and discussed the case for a new ethical code for roboticists.

Symposium: “Being Human in the Digital Age” (16 March 2012)- programme, and videos below

The symposium brought together researchers from law, sociology, philosophy, psychology, medicine and history from across Warwick campus interested in the question of robotics and digital culture and how this shapes our contemporary and future lives as human beings. What are the implications for human identity and behaviour? Indeed, one can argue that the way in which “being human” is now understood is closely related to the rapidly developing technologies of our age. As actors in this phenomenon we find ourselves constantly re-defining who we are through the way in which we engage with latest technological advancement. Social interactions have been deeply changed by the always-on instantaneous hyper connectivity afforded by cyberspace. Are we becoming caught in pixels? At the same time new and increasingly complex human-computer modalities are challenging traditional understandings of the relationship between human and non-human agents. These considerations provide a serious challenge to what we think it means to be human.

Being Human in the Information Age - Dr. John Pickering from Virtual Futures on Vimeo.

Being Human in the Information Age - Professor Steve Fuller from Virtual Futures on Vimeo.

Being Human in the Information Age - Dan Buzzo from Virtual Futures on Vimeo.