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From filter bubbles to sex care robots: come to the online talk show ‘The Future of AI is Human’

How does it feel to be spied on by robots? Did you know that they too discriminate? Our entanglement with technology makes life easier, but there’s a downside too. Artists and researchers will show all aspects of this in the SAILS online talk show The Future of AI is Human. Join in on Tuesday 15 December from 16.30.

Co-organiser Peter van der Putten’s enthusiasm is contagious, even over the phone. It fascinates him no end how simple elements can give rise to intelligence, creativity and other complex behaviour, and what this in turn can bring about. He quotes historian Melvin Kranzberg: 'Technology is neither good nor bad; nor is it neutral.'

Inquisitive robots in a museum

Increasingly symbiotic

Van de Putten is a lecturer and researcher at LIACS, and he also works for Pegasystems software company and various start-ups. ‘What art and science have in common is that they are about asking interesting questions. And they offer new ways of looking. We have an increasingly symbiotic relationship with technology and artists can help us relate to this.’

Designer Vera van der Seyp will explain how she used AI to create the graphical design and typography for the event, for example. Van der Putten: ‘We will also look at curiosity, with a film by Petra Gemeinboeck. She shows people entering empty museum gallery and looking completely befuddled. Until they discover robots hidden in the cavity walls that are busy spying on them.’

Discriminatory Robots

The Art & Technology talk show will cover a wide range of topics. From the filter bubble that many people are ‘trapped’ in – could AI help us burst this bubble? – to the question eLaw researcher Eduard Fosch Villaronga dares ask out loud: why don’t we use sex care robots for the elderly? Fosch Villaronga focuses on inclusivity in robotics, in health care in particular, and has concluded that groups such as children, the elderly, overweight people and the LGBTQ+ community are often excluded.

This wide range of topics is an exact reflection of the Leiden University AI research programme that is behind the talk show: SAILS. Van der Putten: ‘Here we connect AI research to all faculties at the University, from medicine to the humanities.’

AI Summer

Van der Putten is particularly looking forward to hearing cognitive psychologist Jay McClelland talk. ‘It’s now AI summer, which means AI is on everyone’s lips. Arjen Lubach has devoted a lot of attention to the filter bubble caused by algorithms, for instance. There was this level of attention in the 1980s too, and that was because of McClelland. He aroused interest in the question of how we can get computers to learn by learning from how the human brain works. I think he’ll look ahead to the questions that will preoccupy us during the next AI summer.’

Text: Rianne Lindhout

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