Artificial intelligence at the Chicago Humanities Festival

Forget any dread you may have about a rise of the machines. They have already risen, and are autocorrecting our texts and supplying driving directions through GPS. The increasing presence of artificial intelligence in our lives poses all kinds of moral and techno-philosophical questions including the biggest of all: As machines become nearly indistinguishable from people, what does it even mean to be human? “We are able to engineer machines to perform human tasks, and many scientists will tell you that machines can think,” Sylvester Johnson said, when we spoke recently about his upcoming Chicago Humanities Festival event, “Of Machines and Men.” Johnson, an associate professor at Northwestern University, is working on a study of intelligent machines and their challenge to human exceptionalism. “Being human,” he said, “is really manifested…

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