Why geeks should read Iris Murdoch

The College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences will be hosting a seminar by Manny Rayner on Iris Murdoch’s Metaphysics as a Guide to Morals and its implications for Artificial Intelligence (AI).

Entitled, ‘Metaphysics as a Guide to Machines’, the seminar will address the similarities between Iris Murdoch’s underlying concepts and that of the ‘AI geek’.

According to Manny Rayner, Murdoch’s most important images, which can be found throughout her philosophical works, are derived from Plato: the quest for the Sun, which represents the Good, the conflation of Beauty, Truth and Virtue as different aspects of the same underlying thing, the purification of erotic energy as the driving motor of the pilgrimage towards the light, the transformation of the spirit though quiet attention and contemplation.

Recast in an appropriate vocabulary, Manny will argue that Plato’s images give a surprisingly good account, phrased in poetic terms, of a modern neural net’s mode of operation.

Manny will further argue that Murdoch’s analysis suggests questions that AI researchers would do well to think more about, and that the increasing autonomy of AIs imply that serious consideration of moral and ethical issues will soon become inescapable in this area.

Event details

When: 11.00am-12:30pm, Wednesday 21 March 2018

Where: Humanities Room 262

RSVP: elizabeth.weeks@flinders.edu.au

About Manny Rayner

Manny Rayner acquired a BA in Mathematics from the University of Cambridge and a PhD in Computer Science from the Royal College of Technology, Stockholm.

He has held a senior research position at the University of Geneva since 2003, and has previously worked at the Swedish Institute of Computer Science, SRI International, NASA Ames Research Center and two human language technology startups.

His publications include over 150 peer-reviewed papers and The New Adventures of Socrates, a humorous re-imagining of Plato’s dialogues.

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