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John W. Etchemendy (Moderator)
John W. Etchemendy (Moderator)

Stanford University

Salomé Viljoen & Meg Young (Team Leads)

Cornell Tech

Debate: "Does AI Pose an Existential Threat to Humanity?"


DLI's inaugural debate was inspired by thinking through the provocations posed by the impact of ‘intelligent’ technologies on the future of human life. Will robots take over the planet? Will they undermine or erode what it means to be human in other more subtle or unanticipated ways? Is the preoccupation with intelligent machines a red herring? Or is the biggest threat posed by intelligent machines the affordances they provide to the humans who wield them? Stanford Provost Emeritus and Co-director of the Institute for Human-Centered AI, John Etchemendy, will moderate as two talented teams of DLI members, captained by Salomé Viljoen and Meg Young, thrash out the pros and cons of AI in the digital age.


At Stanford University, Professor John Etchemendy served as the director of the Center for the Study of Language and Information from 1990 to 1993, as Senior Associate Dean for the Humanities from 1993 to 1997, and as Provost from 2000 to 2017. He currently co-directs Stanford’s Institute for Human-Centered AI with Fei-Fei Li. Etchemendy received his B.A. and M.A. in Philosophy from the University of Nevada, Reno, and his Ph.D. in Philosophy at Stanford University in 1982. He was on the faculty at Princeton University for two years before returning to Stanford in 1983. He is the author or co-author of seven books and numerous articles in logic and has been co-editor of the Journal of Symbolic Logic and on the editorial board of several other journals.

Salomé Viljoen is a joint postdoctoral fellow at the NYU School of Law Information Law Institute and the Cornell Tech Digital Life Initiative. In July 2021, she will be joining Columbia Law School as an Academic Fellow and Lecturer in Law. Salomé studies how information law (particularly contract law and privacy law) structure inequality in the information economy and how alternative legal regimes may address that inequality. She has a JD from Harvard Law School, an MSc from the London School of Economics, and a BA in Political Economy from Georgetown University.

Meg Young is a postdoctoral fellow at the Cornell Tech Digital Life
Initiative in New York City. Her research focuses on accountable uses
of government technology and data, with a focus on procurement
processes for automated decision systems. She received her Ph.D. from
University of Washington Information School.

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