Friday, February 11, 2011

Visiting professor talks ethics of robots

To those unfamiliar with artificial intelligence, the video footage shown in class Wednesday appeared a little creepy.

A series of recorded images of robots taken from the various sources on the Internet were displayed in a philosophy class at Bemidji State University Wednesday. One image showed a robot with four legs and a horse-like body, trotting across rough terrain. A different image showed a robot standing on stage playing the violin. Another image was a Tyrannosaurs Rex robot walking and roaring as it swayed its head.

Keith Miller, a professor at the University of Illinois Springfield, has traveled around the United States and the world to learn more about the latest developments in artificial intelligence. What he has learned has him both excited and nervous at the same time.

Miller is a mathematician and computer programmer. He is the editor of IEEE Technology & Society magazine. He is also a Schewe professor, which means he receives funding for his research.

Miller spoke at two classes at BSU Friday and made a presentation to the public later that evening. His message was not only to get people excited about robots, it was also to tell people to think about the potential consequences robots could bring to society.

“Technology is developing at an extremely rapid rate,” Miller told a class of BSU students. “We’re not thinking enough about what that means for us humans.”

Miller was featured in a February 11, 2011, article in the Bemidji Pioneer in Minnesota.

Download a PDF of the article