Is AI Mindless? AI, Emotion, and Ethics

December 12, 2020

2:30am Virtual

Streaming platform: Bilibili
Time: 2:30 a.m. PST | 18:30 China
Language: Chinese only

AI has encountered Moravec’s paradox: teaching computers high-level reasoning is easy and teaching them simple sensorimotor skills is difficult. AI ethics calls for building “responsible intelligent machines” that are empathetic in that they understand the social meaning of human behavior, which requires understanding the meaning of Self-Other-World. But in what sense can AI “evolve” emotions and morality when machines today lack autonomy, self-awareness, and practical reasoning? Can we re-examine the dilemma between machine and human from the perspective of the framework and conflict of ancient Greek drama, especially Oedipus the King?

Key Discussions:
• How do we resolve Moravec’s paradox?
• Why do we say AI today is mindless?
• In what sense can we talk about the emotions and moral responsibilities of machines?
• Is it reasonable to talk about AI emotions and ethics from the perspective of human cognition?

LIU Xiaoli, Professor, School of Philosophy, Renmin University of China
Liu Xiaoli is Distinguished Professor and the Chief of the Interdisciplinary Center for Philosophy and Cognitive Science at Renmin University of China. She currently chairs the Committee of Philosophy of Science, China Society of Dialectics of Nature and has published many influential articles including The Dilemma and Trend of the Research Program of Cognitive Science, Analysis of the Thesis of the Extended Mind, and Questions on the Computational Theory of Mind in journals such as Social Sciences in China, Philosophical Research and Journal of Dialectics of Nature. She has also published a book titled The Life of Reason—A Study of Gödel’s Thoughts. Recently, her work The Challenge of Cognitive Science to Contemporary Philosophy was published by Science Press.

ZHU Rui, Professor, School of Philosophy, Renmin University of China
Zhu Rui is Distinguished Professor at the School of Philosophy, Renmin University of China and is a visiting Professor at Texas State University. His research interests include neurophilosophy and philosophy of mind, neuroaesthetics, Plato, and comparative philosophy. He returned to China in 2018 after nearly three decades of academic research in the United States, and he is committed to promoting the development of interdisciplinary science including neuroaesthetics.

ZHAN Yiwen, Researcher, Berggruen Research Center, Peking University
Zhan Yiwen holds a PhD in philosophy and is Researcher at the Berggruen Center, Peking University. His research interests include philosophy of science, metaphysics, and epistemology.


composed by Arswain
machine learning consultation by Anna Tskhovrebov
commissioned by the Berggruen Institute
premiered at the Bradbury Building
downtown Los Angeles
april 22, 2022

Human perception of what sounds “beautiful” is necessarily biased and exclusive. If we are to truly expand our hearing apparatus, and thus our notion of beauty, we must not only shed preconceived sonic associations but also invite creative participation from beings non-human and non-living. We must also begin to cede creative control away from ourselves and toward such beings by encouraging them to exercise their own standards of beauty and collaborate with each other.

Movement I: Alarm Call
‘Alarm Call’ is a long-form composition and sound collage that juxtaposes, combines, and manipulates alarm calls from various human, non-human, and non-living beings. Evolutionary biologists understand the alarm call to be an altruistic behavior between species, who, by warning others of danger, place themselves by instinct in a broader system of belonging. The piece poses the question: how might we hear better to broaden and enhance our sense of belonging in the universe? Might we behave more altruistically if we better heed the calls of – and call out to – non-human beings?

Using granular synthesis, biofeedback, and algorithmic modulation, I fold the human alarm call – the siren – into non-human alarm calls, generating novel “inter-being” sonic collaborations with increasing sophistication and complexity. 

Movement II: A.I.-Truism
A synthesizer piece co-written with an AI in the style of Vangelis’s Blade Runner score, to pay homage to the space of the Bradbury Building.

Movement III: Alarmism
A machine learning model “learns” A.I.Truism and recreates Alarm Call, generating an original fusion of the two.

Movement IV: A.I. Call
A machine learning model “learns” Alarm Call and recreates A.I.Truism, generating an original fusion of the two.