Ethics surrounding artificial intelligence panel comes to Jefferson


Photo courtesy of

Dr. Hanson’s book “The Age of Em” discusses the world of brain emulations that may be possible in the future.

Sadhana Suri, Staff writer

Dystopian novels and movies may have popularized the concept of a robot-ruled planet in the near future, but how could we know which robots would be our overlords, and why?

In order to educate the student body about the ethics and logistics of artificial intelligence, TJHSST sponsored a speaker panel on Friday to hear Professor Robin Hanson, author of Age of Em. He discussed the ethical issues surrounding the field of artificial intelligence and the possible future of the subject, as well as how brain emulations, or ems, would be the first truly “smart” robots.

“As machines take over some of the jobs, the remaining jobs get all the more valuable and their workers get paid more, because these workers are a limited commodity,” Hanson said. “Young people like our students here play a part in understanding job displacement rates and the futures of our jobs.”

The panel was structured so that attending students and teachers alike could ask questions.

“It’s interesting to think about which rights and privileges that ems will have, especially because they see themselves as human but we don’t,” Senior Meghana Boojala said.

Hanson agreed. “If you talked to our ancestors from several millennia ago, they probably wouldn’t even see us as human. I mean, we’re surrounded by such advanced technology and have so many artificial constructs that we embrace as part of our daily lives. We’ll probably think the same of ems. Overall, it’s a very strange world, and is good food for thought.”