Stanford University announced that it would cancel in-person classes for the final two weeks of the winter quarter in response to the expanding outbreak of COVID-19. Even before that, the school had set its sights on larger events. These included the AAAI Spring Symposium Series, a legendary conference on artificial intelligence, which in recent years has also had a major impact on machine ethics and robot ethics or roboethics. The AAAI organization announced by email: “It is with regret that we must notify you of the cancellation of the physical meeting of the AAAI Spring Symposium at Stanford, March 23-25, due to the current situation surrounding the COVID-19 outbreak. Stanford has issued the following letter at news.stanford.edu/2020/03/03/message-campus-community-covid-19/, which strongly discourages and likely results in cancellation of any meeting with more than 150 participants.” What happens with the papers and talks is still unclear. Possibly they will be part of the AAAI Fall Symposium in Washington. The symposium “Applied AI in Healthcare: Safety, Community, and the Environment”, one of eight events, had to be cancelled as well – among other things, innovative approaches and technologies that are also relevant for crises and disasters such as COVID-19 would have been discussed there.
The title of one of the AAAI 2019 Spring Symposia was “Interpretable AI for Well-Being: Understanding Cognitive Bias and Social Embeddedness”. An important keyword here is “social embeddedness”. Social embeddedness of AI includes issues like “AI and future economics (such as basic income, impact of AI on GDP)” or “well-being society (such as happiness of citizen, life quality)”. In his paper “Are Robot Tax, Basic Income or Basic Property Solutions to the Social Problems of Automation?” In his paper, Oliver Bendel discusses and criticizes these approaches in the context of automation and digitization. Moreover, he develops a relatively unknown proposal, unconditional basic property, and presents its potentials as well as its risks. The lecture by Oliver Bendel took place on 26 March 2019 at Stanford University and led to lively discussions. It was nominated for the “best presentation”. The paper has now been published as a preprint and can be downloaded here.