Kegley Institute of Ethics To Host Fall Lecture

Forget zombies -- humanity's far greater threat is advanced artificial intelligence, or so argues author and documentarian James Barrat. Barrat, author of Our Final Invention: Artificial Intelligence and the End of the Human Era, will discuss just why we should be so worried when he gives The Kegley Institute of Ethics, at California State University, Bakersfield's  11th Annual Fall Lecture, “Can Humanity Survive Artificial Intelligence?” 

The program will take place on Thursday, Oct. 8 at 7:00 p.m. in the Doré Theatre. The event is free and open to the public with free parking in Lots A, B and C after 6:00 p.m.

Barrat will discuss the race to develop advanced artificial intelligence (AAI), with its  goal of machines that can emulate the human brain, particularly the capacity for self-awareness. He will discuss the challenges of machine intelligence, with its potential - as far flung as that might be - to become faster, quicker, more knowledgeable, and more powerful than humans. Add that it might also have a survival instinct and you can see why, contrary to many other experts in the field, Barrat considers AAI to be such a threat. 

“For those of us raised on science fiction, this topic sounds like the plot for a cheesy movie or fun summer book,” noted Christopher Meyers, KIE's director. “But you start reading his arguments, and the people he interviews, and all of a sudden it begins to sound like something to which we should be paying the closest possible attention. If he is even partly right, the development of self-aware AI could in fact mean the end of the human era.” 

For 20 years, James Barrat has written and produced documentaries for such broadcast groups as National Geographic, Discovery and PBS. Barrat has always had a fascination for AAI, leading him to spend years interviewing luminaries like inventor Ray Kurzweil, robotoicist Rodney Brooks, Eliezer Yudkowsky, and sci-fi legend Arthur C. Clarke. 

“Our Final Invention is about what can go wrong with the development and application of advanced AI. It's about AI's catastrophic downside, one you'll never hear about from Google, Apple, IBM, and DARPA. I think itís the most important conversation of our time, and I hope you'll join in,” Barrat states on his website. 

All of the Kegley Institute's programs are supported by the generous gifts from Kern Schools Federal Credit Union, Kaiser Permanente and San Joaquin Community Hospital. 

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