West London Humanists and Secularists




"ROBOTS: mechanical bodies; mythical minds; monstrous dangers? - Mark Bishop"
- Meeting 20/03/14" -


Professor Mark Bishop will explore the impact of robotic technology on society. He will begin by highlighting utopian visions from the 1960s - where cyber-pioneers and poets such as Richard Brautigan conceived of a future cybernetic world where man and machine live in perfect harmony; with robots providing labour to enable humanity live out its dreams - before exploring how robots have actually begun to permeate our world. In the world today robots are typically envisaged positively (as mankind's helpers) or negatively (as evil machines 'intent on the overthrow of mankind', as explored in Science Fiction films such as The Terminator). In the second half of the presentation he will demonstrate that although the idea of a conscious machine [driven to subjugate mankind] may simply be Science Fiction, the widespread use and deployment of robots by the military robots does pose serious risks to society.

Mark is Professor of Cognitive Computing at Goldsmiths, University of London; Director of the Goldmsiths centre for Radical Cognitive Science and Chair of the UK society for Artificial Intelligence and the Simulation of Behaviour (AISB). He has published over 130 articles in the field of Cognitive Computing: its theory, where his interests focus on the foundations of the swarm intelligence paradigm "Stochastic Diffusion Processes"; its application, where he has worked on industrial problems relating to autonomous robotics, neural networks and colour; and its philosophical foundations, where he developed "Dancing with Pixies", a novel argument against the possibility of computational machine consciousness; he has also written extensively on the Chinese room argument.