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Soheil Human & Ryan Watkins: Needs-aware Artificial Intelligence — AI that ‘serves [human] needs’

February 2, 2022 @ 4:00 pm - 5:30 pm

Soheil Human, Ryan Watkins

Title: Needs-aware Artificial Intelligence — AI that ‘serves [human] needs’

Soheil Human (Vienna University of Economics and Business)
Ryan Watkins (George Washington University)

Short bios:
Soheil Human

Soheil Human is the director of the Sustainable Computing Lab at the Vienna University of Economics and Business. He is also a lecturer at the Department of Philosophy of the University of Vienna. He has been leading several interdisciplinary research projects on Sustainability, Human-centricity, Accountability, Lawfulness, and Ethicality of Socio-technical Systems. In his research, he combines concepts and methodologies from various fields such as Cognitive Science, Information Systems, Artificial Intelligence, and STS/HPS.

Ryan Watkins

Ryan Watkins is a Professor at the George Washington University in Washington DC. He teaches in the Educational Technology Leadership (MA) program, and the interdisciplinary Human-Technology Collaboration (PhD) program. He is an author of 11 books and over 100 articles and chapters, on topics including needs assessments, program evaluation, and educational technologies. He is co-host of the Parsing Science podcast, and developer of the We Share Science and SciencePods web apps.

Throughout their history, Homo sapiens have used technologies to better satisfy their needs. The relation between needs and technology is so fundamental that the US National Research Council defined the distinguishing characteristic of technology as its goal “to make modifications in the world to meet human needs”. Artificial intelligence (AI) is one of the most promising emerging technologies of our time. Similar to other technologies, AI is expected “to meet [human] needs”. In this talk, which is based on one of our upcoming articles, we reflect on the relationship between needs and AI, and call for the realisation of needs-aware AI systems. We argue that re-thinking needs for, through, and by AI can be a very useful means towards the development of realistic approaches for Sustainable, Human-centric, Accountable, Lawful, and Ethical (HALE) AI systems. We discuss some of the most critical gaps, barriers, enablers, and drivers of co-creating future AI-based socio-technical systems in which [human] needs are well considered and met. Finally, we provide an overview of potential threats and HALE considerations that should be carefully taken into account, and call for joint, immediate, and interdisciplinary efforts and collaborations.


Sustainable Comupting Lecture Series

Soheil Human, Vienna University of Economics and Business (WU Wien)
Arianna Rossi, SnT, University of Luxembourg
Cristiana Santos, Utrecht University
Martin Degeling, Ruhr-University Bochum (RUB)


February 2, 2022
4:00 pm - 5:30 pm


Online Event
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