While our daily routines are being made easier by artificial intelligence (AI), its rapid development raises numerous philosophical, legal, and political questions. Can we entrust our personal matters to AI? Will it deprive us of our free will and choice? Can AI obey laws, international law, and values of humanity? Realising that the challenge is all too real, the #humAInism project seeks to address some of these issues.

The clash between freedom of choice and the lack thereof as a result of optimisation was amongst the key challenges of the digital era discussed with students at the Petnica science centre.

Dr Jovan Kurbalija, executive director of DiploFoundation, began the debate by asking the students if they would entrust their personal data to AI and allow the technology to select their life partner. Although a number of students were firmly for or against the proposal, the majority of them were hesitant about the amount and type of data they would disclose to AI. Some of them also pointed to human interaction as an important constituent of an interpersonal relationship and doubted the potential of AI to fulfil this task on the basis of a mere dataset.

Each new invention raises the question of the relationship between man and machine – from the myth of Prometheus and the story of Frankenstein, to the question of singularity. The rest of the discussion, therefor, focused on key areas of the #humAInism project, such as the relevance of human choice and free will, the responsibility of and for AI systems, and the impact of AI on social development and overall human well-being in the digital era.

To that end, Kurbalija invited students to suggest books that would be relevant to the #humAInism project. Their suggestions included Crime and Punishment, The Master and Margarita, The Stranger, Leviathan, and Frankenstein, to name but a few.

Kurbalija also made reference to some of the well-known examples of human-machine interaction, such as IBM’s Deep Blue, that won a chess match against Garry Kasparov, and Project Debater, a system that is able to argue with expert human debaters.