The development of AI may be one of the biggest events in the history of our species.

Academia has an absolutely crucial role to play in the development of AI according to Prof. Dr. Huw Price, Bertrand Russell Professor of Philosophy, Fellow of Trinity College Cambridge, Academic Director of the Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence,  co-founder of the Centre for the Study of Existential Risk, University of Cambridge and member of the Global AI Ethics Consortium (GAIEC), which was initiated by the IEAI in 2020.

In his talk on The Future of Artificial Intelligence: Academia’s Role in Getting in Right at the IEAI Speaker Series on 23 July 2020, Prof. Price stressed the importance of planning and building the needed “infrastructure” within academia to support and foster discussions around AI-related issues.

AI is already here, but we are only at the beginning of its potential use and impact. During his talk, Prof. Price compared AI with other technologies, such as railway and aviation, which arrived in one big step. In contrast, AI is going to be a rolling revolution, occurring over many decades. What can people do to prepare themselves for what comes next? What role can academics play in helping to meet the challenges related to the use of AI and capitalize upon its benefits?

Prof. Price underlined the importance of academia. Academia is a global and reliable source of knowledge in diverse disciplines, capable of adopting long time horizons and strong independence. Wherever AI is developed, it is going to have global impacts. The challenges of ensuring these impacts are beneficial require global cooperation. Such collaboration depends on trust. Universities are in a unique position to help foster such trust. Furthermore, the issues raised by AI are going to need the expertise of many different academic disciplines. Therefore, Universities are a place for such expertise to naturally come together.

What kind of academic community do we need to build in order to meet the challenges of AI? Among other things, Prof. Price talked about the importance of epistemic humility, interdisciplinarity and connectivity to the world outside academia.

The IEAI also had the pleasure of speaking with Prof. Dr. Huw Price prior to his Speaker Series Session. Read his answers in our Q&A Series Reflections on AI and watch the edited video version.