Should we fear the future?

Should we fear the future? Is it rational to be optimistic about artificial intelligence?

19 October 2017, 10.00-12.30
PHS 5B001, European Parliament, Brussels.


The workshop will include a broad discussion of rational optimism in the context of science and technology, including whether it is rational to be optimistic or pessimistic about the present, as well as the future.

The workshop will open with a keynote lecture by Professor Steven Pinker, an eminent scholar known for his position that the present is better than the past, and that we have reasons to be optimistic about the future. This will be followed by a panel discussion focussing upon the specific area of artificial intelligence (AI) to highlight a range of perspectives from across the spectrum of rational pessimism to rational optimism.


10.00 – 10.20 Opening Session

  • Eva KAILI, MEP and STOA Chair
  • María Teresa GIMÉNEZ BARBAT, MEP and Lead STOA Panel member

10.20 – 11.00 Keynote lecture: Should we fear the future? (30 minute lecture, 10 minute Q&A)

  • Steven PINKER, Harvard University

11.00 – 12.25 Panel debate: Is it rational to be optimistic about artificial intelligence?

  • Introduced and moderated by Steven PINKER
  • ~15 minutes per speaker
  • ~25 minutes for discussion and Q&A
  • Peter J BENTLEY, University College London
  • Miles BRUNDAGE, University of Oxford
  • Olle HÄGGSTRÖM, Chalmers University
  • Thomas METZINGER, Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz

12.25 – 12.30 Closing Remarks

  • María Teresa GIMÉNEZ BARBAT

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