Science, Value, and the Future of Intelligence

This project critically examines conceptions of value in the science of (artificial) intelligence.

The recent ‘social turn’ in the philosophy of science emphasises that science does not proceed in an ethical and political vacuum and that its value presuppositions can be both a blessing and a curse. As blessings, they can constrain science in the service of ideals of justice, welfare and equality. As curses, they can hide in scientific theories and methods, thus piggy-backing on the authority of science, normalising oppression and marginalisation, and manufacturing controversy where there isn’t one.

This project examines the science of intelligence, artificial and otherwise, in this context. Disentangling blessings from curses is hard, but doable – and even more important than elsewhere, given what is at stake. It aims to yield conclusions about what the science of intelligence should study, by what methods; and, no less importantly, about how this research and its dangers and promise should be communicated to the public. Whenever a project is to be judged on its dangers and promises to humanity, we need clarity about what constitutes harm or benefit, and about how to integrate varied and competing values.