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“Machines Learning Values,” a lecture by Dr. Steve Petersen

Friday, July 19
7:00 pm - 8:30 pm


Center for Inquiry – Transnational
1310 Sweet Home Road
Amherst, New York 14228 United States

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Organized by:
Center for Inquiry Western New York


Is it possible for humans to create a superintelligence—an artificial intelligence with a godlike ability to achieve its goals—that can learn human values? Dr. Steve Petersen will explore this question, particularly the three philosophical puzzles that come out of the value learning approach to AI. First, it is unclear how any intelligent system could learn its final values, since to judge one supposedly “final” value against another seems to require a further background standard for judging. Second, it is unclear how to determine the content of a system’s values based on its physical or computational structure. Third, there is the distinctly ethical question of which values we should aim for the system to learn.

Steve Petersen is an associate professor of philosophy at Niagara University. His research centers on a strongly naturalistic approach to good thinking. This involves fundamental issues in normative epistemology and philosophy of mind, and has led Petersen to focus his studies on the ethics of artificial intelligence, especially the problem of the risk posed by superintelligence and value alignment.

This event is free to CFI members and $5 for the public. Refreshments will be served.

This lecture is part of a series of monthly educational lectures hosted by CFI Western New York. The Center for Inquiry’s mission is to foster a secular society based on reason, science, and freedom of inquiry. We are a community group in Western New York made up of atheists, agnostics, secular humanists, skeptics, and other non-religious folks. We do our best to make a positive difference in the lives of secular and scientific-minded people and show that you don’t have to believe in a god to be good or to do good in the world. We have monthly educational lectures (about topics related to science and secularism) up in Amherst, NY, and social events (potlucks, cafe meetups, game nights, etc.) around the year.