Academic talks politics with Artificial Intelligence program
A Royal Holloway, University of London lecturer will debate with an Artificial Intelligence avatar on Thursday 9 November.
(Media-Newswire.com) - Dr Ben O’Loughlin, of the Politics and International Relations Department, will participate in a roundtable discussion with ′George′, an advanced computer program that can chat with humans ( a ′chatbot′ ). The discussion will be part of a workshop on ′Theorising the International after the Subject: Towards a Post-Human International Politics?′, held at Goldsmiths College, University of London.
"’George’ has been invited on account of the ′post-human′ theme of the conference," explains organiser Angharad Closs. "We hope he′ll provide an entertaining and thought-provoking addition to the day."
The workshop is a chance to deal with issues raised by ever-improving technology. "With the biotechnological revolution that is just beginning, or the way our reflexes make us reach for Google when we don’t know something, new technologies are becoming a part of us – and this raises all kinds of ethical and political questions about where we want to go and what we want to be," says Dr O’Loughlin. "The possibilities are exciting. We have the chance not just to cure our illnesses and ensure diseases never happen in the first place, but to extend what we are all capable of. This frightens some people, and we need to have an open debate about where we are going."
′George′ is powered by Jabberwacky, which is part of Icogno Ltd. He is a unique artificial intelligence program because he learns; he stores everything everyone has ever said to him, and finds the most appropriate thing to say using contextual pattern matching techniques. With no hard-coded rules, he relies entirely on the principles of feedback, and is therefore very different to the majority of ′chatbots′, which are rule-bound and finite.
′George′ is an example of how technologies are being stretched to become more human. The workshop will touch on the complex issue of what makes a human human, and whether a computer can ever have those qualities.
The roundtable discussion will form an opportunity for the panelists to respond to the theme of the conference, in any way they choose. They have been provided with a question in advance to help them generate some ideas: ′What would a post-human international politics look like and how would we study it?′ The roundtable will also give conference delegates a chance to ask questions of the panelists.
The workshop is being organised by Contemporary Research in International Political Theory ( CRIPT ), a British International Studies Association working group. The convenors of the event include Royal Holloway sessional tutors Angharad Closs and Antoine Bousquet, as well as Douglas Bulloch, Tara McCormack, Marc Lefebvre and Jill Stuart, who will also be acting as George’s interpreter.
Dr O’Loughlin specialises in international political communication, particularly the relationship between media, war, new security challenges and conflict, and is also interested in the role and influence of political ideologies. He is a founding Editor of the new journal, Media, War and Conflict ( Sage, from April 2008 ) and a founding Editorial Board member of the new journal Critical Terrorism Studies ( Sage, from 2007 ).
"I am not expecting ‘George’, the artificial intelligence machine that is taking part in the debate, to be much cop," says Dr O’Loughlin. "But it will be interesting to see whether it is capable of reasoning, whether it is at all like talking to a human. And didn’t the chess computer Deep Blue beat the best human players?"
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