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Debate: AI Is An Existential Threat to Humanity

Can we ensure that AI's development is guided by ethical and responsible principles?

The race to develop artificial intelligence (AI) is accelerating at a dizzying rate. Tech giants like Google and OpenAI are investing large amounts of money and resources into creating AI systems that hope to outthink and outperform human intelligence, all in the name of solving some of humanity’s most complex problems and to make profits for their shareholders.

Some experts are beginning to sound the alarm that the push to create ever more sophisticated AI could pose an existential threat to humankind. The fear is that machines could potentially turn against us or become too powerful for us to control.

On the other hand, proponents argue that the benefits of AI far outweigh the risks, and that we can design systems with ethical considerations and safeguards to ensure their safe and responsible use. But the risks of AI are serious, with concerns ranging from mass unemployment to life and death decisions being made by machines with no human emotion, as well as the possibility of AI being used by bad actors in cyber warfare.

Our panel discussed the future of technology and its impact on society, exploring the pros and cons of advanced AI, and whether we can ensure its development is guided by ethical and responsible principles. 



Stuart Russell

Acclaimed Computer scientist known for his contributions to artificial intelligence

Acclaimed computer scientist known for his contributions to artificial intelligence. He is a professor of computer science at the University of California, Berkeley and was from 2008 to 2011 an adjunct professor of neurological surgery at the University of California, San Francisco. He is the author of bestselling books including his recent title AI and the Problem of Control.   

Carl Miller

Research Director at Demos and author of The Death of The Gods: The New Global Power Grab

Research Director and co-founder of the Centre for the Analysis of Social Media (CASM) at the think tank Demos. He presented the BBC's flagship technology programme 'Click' and is author of The Death of the Gods: The New Global Power Grab which examines how new technologies change power dynamics in our societies. He was recently appointed to Chatham House's taskforce on Responsible AI.

Sougwen Chung

Artist focused on how AI impacts human creativity

Chinese-Canadian artist and researcher whose work focuses on how new technologies like AI impact creativity and the arts.  A former research fellow at MIT’s Media Lab, TED Speaker, Artist-in-Resident at Bell Labs, Woman of the Year in Monaco for achievements in Art & Science, She is considered a pioneer in the field of human-machine collaboration.

Dr Kanta Dihal

Lecturer in science communication at Imperial College London.

Research scientist who works at the intersection of artificial intelligence, science communication, literature, and ethics. She is currently a lecturer in science communication at Imperial College London.

Madhumita Murgia

AI Editor at the Financial Times

Award-winning journalist who writes about technology and society. She is currently the FT's Artificial Intelligence Editor, where she covers cutting-edge developments in AI globally and broader issues including surveillance, data privacy and tech regulation. Before she joined the FT, she was head of technology at the Daily Telegraph, and an associate editor at WIRED magazine. Madhu holds two Master's degrees - one in science journalism from New York University and one in clinical immunology from Oxford University.