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Ethics in AI Seminar - Does AI threaten Human Autonomy

26 November 2020

With Dr Carina Prunkl, Jessica Morley and OUC's Dr Jonathan Pugh.

Chaired by Professor Peter Millican.

How can AI systems influence our decision-making in ways that undermine autonomy? 
Do they do so in new or more problematic ways?
To what extent can we outsource tasks to AI systems without losing our autonomy?
Do we need a new conception of autonomy that incorporates considerations of the digital self?

This event is part of the Humanities Cultural Programme, one of the founding stones for the future Stephen A. Schwarzman Centre for the Humanities.



Roger Crisp talks private property 29 April 2020 Philosopher Roger Crisp sits down with Theron Pummer to talk about how we acquire private property and about borders and immigration. Watch on YouTube.

Health vs Choice? The Vaccination Debate
3 November 2019, Barbican Centre, London

Governments in some countries, like Italy and France, have introduced new measures to compel vaccination against specified diseases, linking proof of vaccination to children’s access to state-provided schooling. These measures are presented as a necessary expression of the public good, of the right of children to be protected from serious and sometimes life-threatening diseases, and of the need to uphold truth against lies. However, the turn to compulsion has led some commentators, even some who support vaccination, to raise questions about these measures. Over 200 years since Edward Jenner’s use of cowpox to provide immunity from smallpox, what should we make of the situation now? Is there a legitimate right for individuals or parents to refuse vaccination? Or are claims for the public good and for the right of children to good health, expressed if necessary through compulsion, more ethically persuasive? Watch on YouTube.

Global Legal Epidemiology:  developing a science around whether, when and how international law can address global challenges
Oct 2018
Introducing a pioneering approach to ‘global legal epidemiology’, Professor Steven Hoffman, Oxford Martin Visiting Fellow, will discuss legal mechanisms available for coordinating international responses to transnational problems, their prospects, and their challenges. Global legal epidemiology is the scientific study of international law as a factor in the cause, distribution, and promotion of outcomes around the world. It involves evaluating the effectiveness of international legal mechanisms on the basis of their quantifiable effects and drawing implications for the development of future treaties.Prof Hoffman will draw on examples from public health, including tobacco control and antimicrobial resistance, identifying wider lessons for potential international treaties in other domains such as the environment, human rights and trade. Watch on YouTube.

Human Brain Organoids: the Science, the Ethics

On 1 June 2018, the International Neuroethics Society (INS) and the Wellcome Centre for Ethics and Humanities at the University of Oxford co-hosted a symposium on human brain organoids. Neuroscientists, clinicians, lawyers and philosophers gathered to hear lectures given by Madeline Lancaster, Julian Savulescu, and INS President Hank Greely.  The lectures were followed by invigorating discussion and debate on the science and the ethics associated with this new technology. You can find videos of the lectures below and an accompanying summary of the issues discussed on the INS website. Watch on YouTube.

Wilkinson, D., (2016), Interview on HFEA decision to approve 'three-person baby’ mitochondrial transfer in UK, Al Jazeera English news channel (15 December 2016).

Parfit, D., (2015). 'Effective Altruism'. Oxford Union (17 June)

Radcliffe Richards, J., (2015), 'Noble Ancestors and Modern Selves'. This video debate, produced by The Institute of Art and Ideas, looks at whether we ought to look at hunter-gatherer societies as ideal models of the good life. On the panel, as well as Janet, are explorer and documentary maker Bruce Parry; anthropologist Daniel Everett and bio-ethicist Dr. Sarah Chan. Throughout the debate, the panellists discuss why we are fascinated by hunter-gather societies as models of "the good life" and whether there is any plausibility in this conception.

Savulescu, J., (2015), YouTube: Online video on ethics of mitochondrial transfer (2 February)

Radcliffe Richards, J., (2014), 'After Evolution: Is culture beyond genetics?', Everything from criminality to love of gossip is in our genes according to some biologists. Yet behaviour varies dramatically between cultures. Does this cultural variation mean that the theory of evolution is flawed? Can it be rescued with a new theory or is culture beyond genetics?   Janet joined anthropologist Daniel Everett and evolutionary psychologist Oliver Curry to explore the limits of evolution.  Recorded at the HowTheLightGetsIn ideas festival and hosted by Julian Baggini. (May). The Institute of Art and Ideas website.

Savulescu, J., (2013). The Need for Moral Enhancement, TEDxBarcelona,  (May) Video

Savulescu, J., (2013), Televised debate (Belgrade) between Savulescu and John Harris on human enhancement technologies on 15 May (in English)

Savulescu, J., (2013), Televised debate (Belgrade) on RTS on 14 May with Peter Singer on human enhancement technologies (in Serbian)

Earp, B., (2013). The Ethics of Male Circumcision, Uehiro Seminar in Practical Ethics, Oxford (7 June) Audio  |  Video 

Sandberg, A, (2012), Interview for 'The What If Machine'. Available on YouTube, Anders comments ethical and practical issues of engineering 'super-soldiers' by genetically modifying humans.

22 February 2010, Julian Savulescu presented at the 2nd St Cross Special Ethics Seminar at St Cross College in Oxford. The presentation, 'Unfit For Life: Genetically Enhance Humanity or Face Extinction', was devised by Professor Savulescu and Professor Ingmar Persson of the Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics.

13 October 2009, Julian Savulescu - appears on 'Insight' (Australian broadcast t.v. programme), discussing genetic testing for various diseases and what people do with the information, involving various ethical and moral dilemmas.


4 October 2009, Julian Savulescu - 'Unfit For Life: Genetically Enhance Humanity or Face Extinction' presented at the Sydney Festival of Dangerous Ideas

8 July 2009, Julian Savulescu on 'I want to be a Superhero', True Tube (educational videos online) videocast on human enhancement

26 June 2009, Julian Savulescu on 'Fitter, Faster, Future', True Tube (educational videos online) videocast on drugs in sport.