Inaugural director and academic team appointed to Institute for Ethics in AI

A team of seven philosophers has been appointed as the first academic team for Oxford University’s Institute for Ethics in AI. Professor John Tasioulas will become the inaugural Director of the Institute in October, joining from King’s College London where he is Director of the Yeoh Tiong Lay Centre for Politics, Philosophy and Law.  

The Institute was announced last June as part of a £150m gift from Stephen A. Schwarzman, who is Chairman, CEO and Co-founder of Blackstone, one of the world’s leading investment firms. It will be part of the Philosophy Faculty and based in the Stephen A. Schwarzman Centre for the Humanities. The Institute aims to tackle major ethical challenges posed by AI, from face recognition to voter profiling, brain machine interfaces to weaponised drones, and the ongoing discourse about how AI will impact employment on a global scale. The Schwarzman Centre will house Oxford's Humanities disciplines together for the first time in the University’s history, and the Institute will benefit from collaboration with these disciplines.  

In addition to John, the Institute will comprise:

  • An Associate Professor in Philosophy, Dr Carissa Véliz, who was previously Research Fellow at Oxford's Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics and the Wellcome Centre for Ethics and Humanities. She will become a Tutorial fellow at Hertford College.
  • An Associate Professor in Philosophy, Dr Milo Phillips-Brown, who will join from MIT where he is a Distinguished Fellow in Ethics and Technology. He is also Senior Research Fellow in Digital Ethics and Governance at the Jain Family Institute. He will become a Tutorial Fellow at Jesus College.
  • Two Postdoctoral Research Fellows, Dr Carina Prunkl and Dr Ted Lechterman, who will join as postdoctoral research fellows, from Oxford University’s Future of Humanity Institute and the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin, respectively.
  • Two doctoral students, who will start their programme in the coming academic year.

In an interview for the University's Arts Blog, Professor Tasioulas said he plans to work closely with Oxford's Humanities faculties to develop new research and thinking on AI ethics. "At Oxford, we have the largest Philosophy department in the English-speaking world and it has historically been a very powerful presence in the discipline," he said. "We will also draw on other disciplines like literature, medicine, history, music, law, and computer science. This is a radical attempt to bridge the divide between science and humanities in this area and Oxford is uniquely placed to pull it off."

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