Click the star to add/remove an item to/from your individual schedule.
You need to be logged in to avail of this functionality, and to see the links to virtual rooms.

Accepted Paper:

Spectres of Leach: Reflections on Homo Deus from 1967 and why these insights matter now.  
Nicholas Jones

Paper short abstract:

Edmund Leach challenged humans in his 1967 BBC Reith lectures to understand their divinity. This problem haunts the present because it remains unresolved. This paper asserts the need to confront this problem and find consensus.

Paper long abstract:

This paper examines Edmund Leach’s Reith lectures recorded by the BBC in 1967 to excavate questions and insights that have relevance now. Leach argued that every generation is beset by anxieties in response to technological and concomitant social change. Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) and societal transformation gave tangibility to public anxiety at the time of Leach’s lectures but Leach’s insights into the apparent Runaway World of his time are as instructive to the problem of AI and the future of humanity now as to his audience and their concerns 55 years ago. “Men have become like gods. Isn’t it about time that we understood our divinity?” so Leach posits at the start of his Reith lectures. Leach’s question remains potent and problematic; it necessitates reflection on ‘change’, ‘control’, ‘time’, ‘purpose’, ‘value’ and of critical importance: which gods to be like? Leach concludes that “We could act like gods” but the modal verb used heralds caution. It is this tone of caution that haunts the present because if it cannot be agreed which gods we could or should be like then our techno-creations and the social complex in which these creations operate will be contradictory. It is concluded that until the ‘which god to be like?’ problem becomes resolved and a consensus found the future remains incoherent; humans as heroes or villains with techne but not like gods. To plan an advanced AI future we must first decide what kind of gods we must become.

Panel P30b
Becoming Gods: Techno-scientific and Other Deifications
  Session 1 Friday 10 June, 2022, -