Program Details

The Robots Are Coming: Humanity's Greatest Opportunity or Most Ominous Threat?

Stephen Kowel

Course Description

Robots already negotiate with us on the phone, predict the weather, assist with surgery, and even drive our cars. We are already addicted to computer-driven appliances for communication, education, and entertainment. The ambiguity of the title mirrors the looming consequences of artificial intelligence (AI). Machines are taking on dangerous, laborious, and routine labor, medical diagnostics, assisting with intricate surgeries, and providing prosthetics of all sorts. But what dangers will lie with robots capable of independent thought and action? If robots can out-think and out-perform us, what will we do? Will these machines be a boon to humanity or a challenge to our relevance, if not to our very existence? Will smarter robots be an enormous asset, beyond anything in present technology; or will they replace us as the last stage of human evolution? We review the robots among us today and peer into our future. Topics include: Medical diagnostics, robotic surgery, prosthetics, self-driving cars, and machines that learn from experience; The Singularity: Might machines cross the consciousness barrier; and how do we prepare for robots taking our jobs?

About the Instructor

  • Stephen Kowel, PhD, received his doctorate in Electrical Engineering from the University of Pennsylvania. He has held faculty positions at Syracuse University, the University of California, Davis, the University of Alabama in Huntsville, and the University of Cincinnati, where he also served as Dean of the College of Engineering. Kowel has contributed to more than 100 papers and patents in the fields of acousto-optics, electro-optics, liquid crystal adaptive lenses, and 3-D autostereoscopic displays. He has been elected a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and of the Optical Society of America (OSA).

Upcoming programs presented by Stephen Kowel.

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