Conference Kognícia a umelý život (Cognition and Artificial Life) is a well-established scientific interdisciplinary conference with a 20-year tradition, connecting scientists mainly from Czechia and Slovakia, focused on cognitive science and artificial intelligence. As part of the TERAIS project we introduce invited speaker Alistair Knott. You can join this public lecture in English in MS Teams TERAIS KUZ Webinar event online.
Discussions about AI and its oversight are happening everywhere – between friends in cafes, between colleagues in schools and workplaces, within local and national governments, in international conferences, in global citizens’ groups, in big and small tech companies. AI/tech companies participate in multiple transparency initiatives in different jurisdictions, engage with external stakeholders of many kinds, and compete aggressively with one another. The large companies also run huge lobbying operations with multiple governments, and large international PR operations. On top of all this, the technologies at the centre of these discussions are progressing at a startling pace.
It’s important that the conversation about AI is broad, and stretches from high policymaking to grassroots. But how can we ensure that this broad national and international conversation is efficiently conducted, and leads to decisions in service of the common good? Lots of noise and activity is certainly not always a sign of progress. I will describe the state of the conversation as I have sampled it over the last few years, living in New Zealand, and participating in various international groups. I’ll make a couple of proposals about how discussions can be made efficient, both within individual countries and multilaterally, between countries.
Alistair Knott works in the areas of Cognitive Science and Artificial Intelligence (AI). He studied Philosophy and Psychology at Oxford University, then did postgrad and postdoc work in AI at the University of Edinburgh. He has been based in Aotearoa New Zealand since 1998, first at Otago University, and now at Victoria University of Wellington.
Ali has always been interested in the ethics and social impacts of AI. At Otago, he co-founded the Centre for AI and Public Policy, where he conducted research on Government uses of AI in New Zealand, and on the impact of AI on jobs and work in New Zealand. In Wellington, he coordinates a regular seminar on AI and Society, bringing together experts from many university departments with government stakeholders. Beyond New Zealand, Ali is a member of the Global Partnership on AI’s Responsible AI Working Group, where (with Dino Pedreschi) he co-leads a project on social media governance, focussing on recommender systems, harmful content classifiers and large language models. Ali has also contributed to the Christchurch Call’s Algorithms Workstream, and has participated in working groups at the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism.
Ali also works in the AI industry. He joined the NZ-based AI company Soul Machines as an academic contractor when it was founded in 2016. At Soul Machines, Ali works with his eminent colleague Martin Takac on a large-scale project to build a simulated embodied brain, for use in the company’s main product (a human-computer dialogue system), and also in a research system (a simulated baby, BabyX). Ali also has primary responsibility for the company’s ethics policy.
A recording of Ali’s webinar is available on YouTube and can be viewed below.