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A debate on the role of AI in today’s world and its impact on society led by Jotham Njoroge, a lecturer for the BA in Development Studies and Philosophy degree, gave some key insights into what Artificial Intelligence – AI is about.

The debate was animated by the philosopher’s club members, who included the Masters in Applied Philosophy & Ethics alumni and its current students.

Artificial Intelligence, commonly referred to as AI, is an area of Computer Science that designs – and builds – machines that act intelligent. This may be through mimicking human emotions or through doing repetitive cognitive tasks such as driving a car, translations etc. They can also be machines that work and react like human beings through emotion.

With the above in mind, AI proves to have the potential to make life easier for human beings. There were many instances of artificial intelligence being seemingly ‘better’ than human intelligence. It was however clear that if we define the human soul as having intellect, then there is no way artificial intelligence can equate to human intelligence. This is because robots, machines and algorithms have no soul. In this regard, artificial intelligence mimics human intelligence but can never be equated to human intelligence.

This conversation left more questions than answers, which proved that there is plenty of room for more discussions on AI’s place in the world.

Some of the questions raised were:

  • Can an artificial intellect create new artificial intellects? What does this mean for a human being?
  • Is artificial intelligence able to understand and sacrifice for the sake of others without being pre-programmed?
  • If we grant artificially intelligent robots autonomy, who is responsible for their actions? Is the responsibility with the creator that programmed them?

To know more here is a link to an interview with Sophia the robot, who is a social robot claiming to be able to understand and feel emotion.

The Philosophers club is driven by the Masters in Applied Philosophy and Ethics (MAPE) alumni and its current students. Staff and anyone else who might be interested in the conversations is welcome to join in the debates on various issues in society. They meet once a month, on a Thursday morning.