Put AI to Work
April 15-18, 2019
New York, NY
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Maintaining human control of artificial intelligence

Joanna Bryson (University of Bath)
1:00pm1:40pm Thursday, April 18, 2019
AI Business Summit
Location: Sutton North/Center
Secondary topics:  Ethics, Privacy, and Security

Who is this presentation for?

  • Tech workers and policy makers



Prerequisite knowledge

  • Familiarity with software engineering

What you'll learn

  • Understand the necessity and tractability of maintaining human control over AI
  • Discover the technological and policy mechanisms by which this can be achieved


Although not a universally held goal, maintaining human-centric artificial intelligence is necessary for society’s long-term stability. Fortunately, the legal and technological problems of maintaining control are actually fairly well understood and amenable to engineering. The real problem is establishing the social and political will for assigning and maintaining accountability for artifacts when these artifacts are generated or used.

Joanna Bryson discusses the necessity and tractability of maintaining human control and explores both the technological and policy mechanisms by which this can be achieved. What makes the problem most interesting—and most threatening—is that achieving consensus around such an approach requires at least some measure of agreement on broad existential concerns. But without clear accountability across the sector, AI will be used to facilitate fraud, with AI legal persons proving the ultimate technology as both shell companies and bought votes.

AI is not a new species discovered; it’s a software engineering technique that has to date often been implemented in ways woefully lacking in DevOps. We can have and use extremely complex AI systems so long as we provide enough documentation, live testing, and ring fencing to ensure that we can demonstrate due diligence and lack of liability.

Photo of Joanna Bryson

Joanna Bryson

University of Bath

Joanna J. Bryson is a transdisciplinary researcher on the structure and dynamics of human- and animal-like intelligence and a Reader (associate professor) at the University of Bath. Her research covers topics from artificial intelligence to autonomy and robot ethics to human cooperation and has appeared in venues ranging from Reddit to Science. She holds degrees in psychology from Chicago and Edinburgh and artificial intelligence from Edinburgh and MIT. She has additional professional research experience from Princeton, Oxford, Harvard, and Lego as well as technical experience in Chicago’s financial industry and international management consultancy.