The theme for STARS 2019 is “technology and humanity.” We are in the middle of a robot apocalypse. The machines are now everywhere and doing virtually everything. We chat with them online, we collaborate with them at work and we rely on their capabilities to manage many aspects of our increasingly complex data-driven lives. Consequently, the “robot invasion” is not some future catastrophe that will transpire as we have imagined it in our science fiction. So we need to grapple now with the ethical decisions about the robots we’ve created. This lecture examines how humans depend on technology, and the philosophical implications of machine learning and the rights of artificial intelligent agents.
David J. Gunkel is an award-winning educator and scholar, specializing in the philosophy of technology with a particular focus on information and communication technology. He is the author of over 70 scholarly articles published in journals of communication, philosophy, interdisciplinary humanities, and computer science. He has published nine books and has lectured and delivered award-winning papers throughout North and South America and Europe. Dr. Gunkel currently holds the position of Presidential Teaching Professor in the Department of Communication at Northern Illinois University. His teaching has been recognized with numerous awards, including NIU's Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching Award in 2006 and the Presidential Teaching Professorship in 2009.