For the non-specialist, the whole notion of Artificial Intelligence challenges fundamental understandings of what it is to be human, with enormous implications for how we conceive ourselves, our artefacts and our societies. AI's foundational goal was the construction of autonomous sentience. Yet, 55 years after Turing's seminal paper, publicly visible achievements, beyond science fiction speculations or media exaggerations, still lie in faltering steps in voice and image recognition, surveillance, computer games and virtual environments, not in truly intelligent everyday machines.
This symposium will offer a major forum for the discussion of the social understanding of Artificial Intelligence, in particular the curious spaces between popular expectations of machines that meet our every whim, fears of humans enslaved or eliminated by crazed super-brains, and the sober reality of toasters that still burn the bread.
At the start of the 21st century, it is timely to reflect not just on the technical achievements and pitfalls of the now mature discipline of Artificial Intelligence, but also on its wider social understanding. While there have always been ill-informed concerns about "robots taking over the world", the reality is both more prosaic and more complex. People have long anthropomorphised complex artefacts which are capable of seemingly autonomous interaction. However, recent advances in the deployment of believable characters and affective systems, both in graphical and robotic form, have rekindled problematic social and ethical questions about our relationships with machines.
This symposium offers a fresh opportunity for interdisciplinary perspectives on the social understanding of Artificial Intelligence, with the strong potential to bring together contemporary research in key technical, social, psychological and philosophical domains