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Can Machines Be Moral Agents?

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Nigel studied for his undergraduate degree at Lancaster University, initially doing Maths and Philosophy before switching to Computing and Philosophy, being particularly attracted to the logic side of Philosophy. He moved to – as it was then- Oxford Polytechnic in 1985 to undertake a PhD in Medical Diagnostics Systems and upon completion in 1989, became a lecturer. Whilst he never set out with the explicit intention of becoming an academic, he has followed his interests – logic, philosophy and computing.

Nigel put a lot of thought into how he could best combine his faith with his research, reflecting on how his academic expertise might enable him to marry the two. He realised that AI and apologetics were asking many of the same questions, particularly regarding what and who human beings are. Now he is lucky that both his main interests are coming together. Over the last six months he has realised that he can combine his theological perspective with his AI work, in how to develop Robots with moral character. This speaks to questions at the heart of both his religious and academic interests.

This talk is part of the Faraday Institute for Science and Religion series.

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