Are There Hidden Dangers in Robots that Look Like Us?

In this Wireless Philosophy video, Ryan Jenkins (professor of Philosophy at Cal Poly) examines the ethical problems raised by the use of anthropomorphic “framing” in the design of robots and other AI technologies. How might unconscious biases end up shaping these supposedly neutral designs, and what responsibilities do engineers have to ensure that their designs don’t perpetuate certain kinds of marginalization and injustice?

Associate Professor of Philosophy at California Polytechnic State University

Dr. Ryan Jenkins is an associate professor of philosophy and a senior fellow at the Ethics + Emerging Sciences Group at Cal Poly. His research focuses on the potential for emerging technologies to enable or encumber meaningful human lives — especially artificial intelligence, cyber war, autonomous weapons, and driverless cars.

Dr. Jenkins has affiliations with the Center for Advancing Safety of Machine Intelligence (CASMI) at Northwestern University and the Karel Čapek Center for Values in Science and Technology in Prague. He is a former member of the IEEE TechEthics Ad Hoc committee and a former co-chair of the Robot Ethics Technical Committee of the IEEE’s Robotics & Automation Society. He has served as a principal investigator or senior personnel for several grants on the ethics of autonomous vehicles, predictive policing, and cyberwar.

His work has appeared in journals such as TechneEthical Theory and Moral Practice, and the Journal of Military Ethics, as well as public fora including the Washington Post, Slate and Forbes. His works has been cited in Daedalus, the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, and Philosophy Compass. His interviews have appeared in The New YorkerInc. Magazine, Engadget, NPR, and elsewhere.

Dr. Jenkins earned his BA in Philosophy from Florida State University (Phi Beta Kappa) and his PhD in Philosophy from the University of Colorado Boulder. He earned the College of Liberal Arts’s Early Career Award for Achievement in Scholarship in Spring 2021.

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