Bemidji State’s 7th annual McDonald Lecture to explore ethics of robots

BEMIDJI, Minn. (Jan. 28, 2011) — For decades, science fiction has speculated on the nature of life and death interactions between humans and sophisticated non-humans. Now, that fiction is increasingly becoming a part of our daily reality. Drones patrol the skies in Pakistan. Department of Defense research aims to instruct robotic soldiers to obey the rules of war. Artificial intelligence researchers predict that sex and marriage between humans and robots will become commonplace within the next 50 years.

How will human beings manage these developments? As machines become increasingly more sophisticated and autonomous, how will humans establish what is right and what is wrong for robots? And how long will it be before advances in artificial intelligence allow robots to begin making some of these decisions for themselves?

Noted computer ethicist Dr. Keith Miller, professor of computer science at the University of Illinois-Springfield, will explore the need to explore ethical relationships between humans and increasingly more-complex robotic organisms in a lecture entitled “Kiss, Kiss, Kill, Kill: The Ethics of Robots, Love, Sex and War,” sponsored by the philosophy program at Bemidji State University.

The lecture, presented as the philosophy program’s seventh annual Don and Gladys McDonald Philosophy Lecture Series in Applied Ethics, will be held at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 9, in Hagg-Sauer 107. It is free and open to the public.

Miller is the Schewe Professor of Computer Science at the University of Illinois-Springfield. His research areas include computer ethics, software testing and online education. He is the editor-and-chief of the quarterly journal “IEEE Technology and Society” and has over 300 publications and speaking engagements to his name. He was recently awarded the 2011 Joseph Weizenbaum Award from the International Society for Ethics and Information Technology, and is the associate director of the Therkildsen Field Station at Emiquon in Lewiston, Ill.

For more information, contact the philosophy program in Bemidji State’s Department of Humanities at (218) 755-2880.