Artificial Intelligence: What Does It Mean to Be Human?

Dr. S. Joshua Swamidass
06 Mar 2023
7:00 PM
Sun Room, Memorial Union
  • Veritas Forum
  • Christian Faculty and Staff Association
  • Committee on Lectures (funded by Student Government)

As artificial intelligence continues to rival or surpass human abilities in different areas it raises profound questions about what it means to be human and about the moral status of both human beings and artificial intelligence. Could a machine become a sentient being? If it did, how would we know?  What moral status might it have?  How do our answers to these questions affect how humans think about themselves? These questions call for thoughtful conversation rather than soundbites, and this Veritas Forum will be in the form of a dialog between Joshua Swamidass, a scientist who specializes in artificial intelligence in his work as a professor at Washington University, and Clark Wolf, Professor and Director of Bioethics at Iowa State, with Alex Tuckness, Chair of the Department of Political Science, serving as moderator.   


S. Joshua Swamidass, MD, PhD, is a computational biologist, physician, academic and author. He is an Associate Professor of Laboratory and Genomic Medicine at Washington University in Saint Louis. He has published over 150 articles. He is a rising star in the area of faith and science with his Peaceful Science blog (Peaceful Science) and his recent book, The Genealogical Adam and Eve: The Surprising Science of Universal Ancestry. Dr. Swamidass was recently elected a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), for his distinguished contributions to the field of deep learning in computational biology, and for extraordinary public outreach promoting an understanding of science among communities of faith. AAAS is the world’s largest general scientific society and publisher of the Science family of journals. Election to be a AAAS fellow is among the highest honors in science.

Clark Wolf is Professor of Philosophy, Director of Bioethics, and Associate Director of the Sustainable Agriculture Program at Iowa State University.  He has published widely on issues in bioethics, sustainability, intergenerational justice, philosophy of law, and philosophy of economics. Wolf's work on responsible conduct of research, regulation of genetically edited foods and crops, and on policy for sustainable food/energy/water infrastructure is supported by grants from the National Science Foundation and the United States Department of Agriculture. 


This event was recorded and will be available to view on the available recordings page: