Computing Morality: Ethical Decision-making in an Age of AI and Big Data

Computing Morality: Ethical Decision-making in an Age of AI and Big Data

We at the Institute for Advanced Torah Studies at Bar-Ilan University, are excited to announce a novel initiative – the first interreligious colloquium, “Computing Morality,” on the burgeoning issue of AI and 'Big Data'. We are privileged to invite you to take part in the founding colloquium and will be honored by your participation. This conference will be held at Bar-Ilan University, located in Ramat-Gan, Israel, March 11th-15th, 2018.

This burgeoning field has far reaching ramifications and therefore necessitates the participation of leaders in various scientific fields. Most notably, it has special relevance for those guided by faith and who see the physical world not merely as a collection of facts, but as a field of meaningful action – imbued with purpose and responsibility.

In recent years a foundational shift has occurred in basic science and technology, effecting all walks of life and research. This trend is sometimes called "Big Data" – denoting the use of an overwhelming amount of data to achieve results that bypass the traditional notions of causality and explanation. Law-like behavior is now more often considered heuristic, rather than analytical or objective in nature. Utilizing Big Data tools such as Deep Learning and the current applications of neural networks, is becoming progressively more attractive for industry and government as it subsumes the search for mechanisms and causal frameworks.  

The practical benefits of this mode of science and technology are appreciable and undeniable – lives are being saved, and automated systems are being developed to minimize casualties in violent conflicts (i.e. MobilEye). On the other hand, these developments raise major dilemmas. For example, should we accept actions that are dictated by algorithmic results beyond the scope of our intellect, eliminating moral agency and the Divine spark of human intelligence?

This dilemma concerns not only academic, intellectual and social issues, but touches upon the basic concepts of volition and responsibility that guide many of us driven by faith.

We welcome you to contribute to this discussion on the current challenges we are all facing. Already joining the conference are Nobel Laureate Professor Robert J. Aumann (Center for the Study of Rationality, Hebrew University), Prof. Joseph Jacobson (MIT CBA) and Prof Michael Kara-Ivanov (Mobileye R&D leader). Your involvement will significantly enhance this discussion’s relevance and impact. 

This unique workshop -- conducted in one of the most multi-cultural and challenging universities and countries in the world -- is an opportunity to build international bridges among leaders and scholars who share these same concerns and commitments. This colloquium is geared towards fostering a collaborative framework engaging topics of possible technological, scientific and social change pertinent to people of faith.

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