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IEEE UK and Ireland SSIT Webinar | Automating Empathy in Human-AI Partnerships: Issues, Ethics and Governance by Prof Andrew McStay, Bangor University

IEEE UK and Ireland SSIT Chapter and SSIT IST-Africa SIGHT are cooperating with a number of IEEE OUs to organise this SSIT Lecture as a joint webinar.

Guest Lecture Focus

This lecture considers General-Purpose Artificial Intelligence (GPAI) products marketed as ‘empathic partners’, ‘personal AI’, ‘co-pilots’, ‘assistants’, and related phrasing for ‘human-AI partnering’. Open AI, Inflection, Google, Microsoft, and others, all promise empathic capacities. Current and nascent domains of use include work, therapy, education, life coaching, legal problems, fitness, and entertainment. The lecture focuses on the risks and opportunities of empathic human-AI partnering, what new governance (if any) is required, and the role that soft law standards may play in leading in supporting hard law.

To explore empathic human-AI partnering, the lecture will initially provide historical context to these technologies, case examples, and a sense of current governance for technologies used to empathise. With this understanding in place, the lecture will progress to consider need to contrast upstream and downstream understandings of GPAI, complexities of this separation for governance, balancing of short and long-term risks, social and ethical questions unique to empathic human-AI partnering, issues of global cultural variation regarding empathic human-AI partnering, balancing of interests of ethical diversity and unity in creation of soft law and standards, and lessons that can be learned from existing and nascent P7000 standards.

About the Speaker

Andrew McStay is Professor of Technology & Society at Bangor University, UK. His most recent open access book, Automating Empathy: Decoding Technologies that Gauge Intimate Life, examines social dimensions of technology to infer and interact with emotions, mental states, and human conditions.

Director of The Emotional AI Lab, his current work focuses on addressing use of emulated empathy in general-purpose artificial intelligence systems for human-AI partnerships. An IEEE SSIT member, non-academic work includes standards development work for P7014 and ongoing advising roles for the UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office, start-ups, and NGOs.

He has also appeared and made submissions to the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner on the right to privacy in the digital age, the UK House of Lords AI Inquiry and the UK Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

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