Speaker: Wendell Wallach
Title: A Dangerous Master: How to keep technology from slipping beyond our control
Date: Wednesday, February 10, 2016
Location: MC 5501
Time: 2-4pm
Join us for refreshments starting at 2pm. The lecture will start at 2:30pm and run till approximately 3:30pm. A Q&A with the speaker will follow the lecture.

To register for this event, please use the form below or visit the Eventbrite.

If you’re unable to join us at the lecture, a video of the talk will be available on this page 2-3 weeks after the event.

Wendell Wallach will also be presenting two other talks while visiting Waterloo. More information on those events can be found here.


Most of us perceive technology as a source of both promise and productivity, and yet there is considerable disquiet regarding specific emerging technologies and the overall course of technological development. Indeed, a variety of factors suggest that technological development is slipping beyond human control. These include, but are not limited to, the increasing reliance on complex systems whose activities is difficult to predict or fully control, the accelerating pace of technological innovation accompanied by ineffective lagging oversight, and the plethora of environmental, public health, and other societal challenges arising from individual research trajectories. A technological singularity when artificial intelligence exceeds human intelligence  functions as the symbolic, yet speculative, representation of a total loss of human control. Technological unemployment is, however, the more immediate theme that raises concern as to the possible loss of control over our personal lives, and fear over the prospects for our children. Whether human destiny is indeed being surrendered to technological possibilities and economic imperatives, or can just appear to be, are two issues difficult to disentangle. However, this presentation will emphasize what can go wrong as we adopt new technologies and how the risks and harms might be addressed through ethics, engineering, oversight, and governance.


Wendell Wallach is a consultant, ethicist, and scholar at Yale University’s Interdisciplinary Center for Bioethics. He is also a senior advisor to The Hastings Center, a fellow at the Center for Law, Science & Innovation at the Sandra Day O’Connor School of Law (Arizona State University), and a fellow at the Institute for Ethics & Emerging Technology. At Yale Mr. Wallach has chaired the Center’s working research group on Technology and Ethics for the past ten years and is a member of other research groups on Animal Ethics, End of Life Issues, and Neuroethics.

Wendell Wallach’s latest book A Dangerous Master: How to keep technology from slipping beyond our control was published by BASIC Books in June 2015. He also co-authored (with Colin Allen) Moral Machines: Teaching Robots Right From Wrong, which mapped the then new field of enquiry variously called machine ethics, machine morality, computational morality, or friendly AI. In addition, Wendell is a series editor for the forthcoming 8th Volume Library of Essays on the ethics of Emerging Technology, which will be published by Ashgate in Spring 2016. He has also published dozens of article in professional journals.

Mr. Wallach has an international reputation as an expert on the ethical and governance concerns posed by emerging technologies, particularly artificial intelligence and neuroscience. He was featured along with Honda’s Asimov in the award-winning short film Living with Robots, and has been interviewed and quoted often in leading news media including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and BBC News. He has also been interviewed on MSNBC, FOX, the FOX Business Channel, PBS and countless national and local radio shows.  In 2014 he received the award for ethics from the World Technology Network, and in 2015 was selected for a Fulbright Research Chair at the University of Ottawa.


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