Guest Speaker: "Appearance or Reality: Does AI need Emotions?"

Colin Allen (UCSB)

Friday, March 15th, 2024 (12:10-2:00 PM) Performing Arts Center     (Building 06) Room 0124



Commercially available AI systems exist for the detection of emotions from human faces, text, and non-verbal behavior, even if they don’t fully live up to the marketing hype. At the same time, generative models are now capable of producing text and images that lead some of the people some of the time to attribute emotions to them. Such capacities are often argued to be important for effective human-machine interaction, but the actual limitations of current systems mean that their deployment comes with some hazards. Furthermore, these capacities do not amount to machines having their own emotions, a potential development that is regarded by some commentators as even more hazardous. Perhaps incrementally improving the capacities of machines to detect emotions and to appear to have them is good enough for human-machine interaction but a further question exists about whether human-level intelligence crucially depends on emotions, or whether it exists despite emotions. I will argue that the likely answer to this question is the former — emotions are crucial to intelligence — but answering this question definitively requires conceptual, theoretical, and experimental work at the interface of philosophy and cognitive science. I will end by sketching the research program that this entails and questioning the wisdom of pursuing such a research program


Colin Allen received his BA in Philosophy from University College London and his PhD in Philosophy from UCLA, where he also did graduate work in artificial intelligence. He has taught at Texas A&M University, Indiana University (where he also directed the Cognitive Science Program), and the University of Pittsburgh, before joining UCSB’s Department of Philosophy. He is an elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and a winner of the Barwise Prize from the American Philosophical Association "for significant and sustained contributions to areas relevant to philosophy and computing by an APA member.” Allen's main areas of research concern the philosophical foundations of cognitive science, particularly as these relate to scientific study of animal cognition and artificial intelligence. His publications also span topics in the philosophy of mind, philosophy of biology, and humanities computing, with over 120 research articles and several edited and co-authored books, including Moral Machines: Teaching Robots Right from Wrong (Oxford University Press 2009) and Species of Mind (MIT Press 1997).


Related Content