Interview with “Jutarnji Life” in Zagreb

(During the conference in Zagreb on the Ethics of Robotics and Artificial Intelligence, Croatian newspaper Jutarnji Life has interviewed AI Ethics Lab’s founder, Cansu Canca.

Below, you can read a section of the interview translated using Google Translate and edited by a human 🙂 )

International Philosophy Conference Zagreb Applied Ethics Conference 2017: The Ethics of Robotics and Artificial Intelligence, organized by the Association for the Promotion of Philosophy held in Matica Hrvatska, was dedicated to the ethics of robotics and artificial intelligence. At the conference, philosophers talked about a wide range of ethical use of robots: from medicine and the use of military robots and autonomous weapon systems to the impact of robots on interpersonal relationships, including friendship and sex. Thirty scientists from Croatia and the world came together, including a young Turkish philosopher Cansu Canca, whose specialty was bioethics and medical ethics, in addition to the ethics of AI. Canca graduated and obtained a master’s degree at Bogazici University in Istanbul, and during her master’s degree, she conducted a part of the research at Osaka University (Japan). After that, she obtained her Ph.D. from the National University of Singapore with the topic of the ethics of buying and selling organs.

“During my Ph.D. work, I was at the World Health Organization (WHO), Geneva, for six months and then at the Harvard Medical School, where I carried out parts of my research. After graduating, I went back to Harvard—to Harvard Law School—where I continued my work on organ transplantation. After two and a half years at Harvard, I went to the University of Hong Kong, where I was a lecturer in medical ethics at the Faculty of Medicine, as well as an honorary assistant professor at the Philosophy Department” Canca told us.

We’ve been talking about artificial intelligence and robotics. I was curious how she became interested in that topic. 

“Artificial intelligence has entered into all areas of our lives. And it’s infiltrating more and more. Practically everything you do now includes some algorithms in the background—for example, everyday interaction with our cell phones or purchases with credit cards. As I was working on health care topics, I realized that artificial intelligence also got into that area. That is the first reason for my interest in this topic,” Canca said.

Explaining her second reason for her interest, “In the case of artificial intelligence, we still have no regulation. We have no public opinion about these issues either. If I am talking about euthanasia, abortion, or the market for organs, you have already built up your position, and there are legal regulations. It’s a conversation where we have positions. It is harder to make a change. But if we talk about Siri in your iPhone, we do not have any positions yet. It’s a whole new conversation in our lives,” Canca said.

The main ethical dilemma about artificial intelligence is considered a danger of it controlling us. “That’s the biggest fear. Artificial intelligence is everywhere around us and we have more and more interaction with it, and new generations interact with smart machines even more than us,” she says. I asked her what she was thinking about the ethical consequences of robot sex, and she laughed. “It’s not something that is in the focus of my research and thinking. But generally speaking, I do not have a negative view about the sexual use of robots. As long as this does not result in poor behavior in people towards others, I do not see why we should have a problem with it. If you use sex robots as you like without then treating people as robots and ignoring their needs and desires, I do not think there is an issue. But if the use of sex robots affect people’s behavior towards each other, then we should be careful. This is an empirical question and I do not have an answer to that.” she concludes.




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