Artificial Intelligence - Young Resarchers Conference

Harvard University, Boston - 11/12 October, 2019

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October Conference_Boston_Young

The Pontifical Academy for Life, in partnership with the World Youth Alliance, Abigail Adams Institute, and the Harvard Students for Life, is organizing a conference for young professionals and students on the weekend of October 11-12, 2019, at Harvard University (Boston, USA).

The purpose of this conference is to help young professionals and student to reflect more deeply about what it means to be human in the face of advances in robotics and artificial intelligence. With advances in these technologies, especially with researchers attempting to mimic the human mind and consciousness in inorganic material, it is important to think about how we use technology and how advances in technology deeply affect who we see ourselves to be and how we interact with those around us. This conference will be an opportunity to discuss on these important topics, and we, as the Young Researchers of the Pontifical Academy for Life, also believe that the question of what it means to be human is one that many young people are seeking answers to, and when misunderstood, drives many of the current ills of our society today.

This conference is open to young professionals and students <35 years old.

More details coming soon.


October 11th, 2019 (Friday) - The Science

7:00PM: Introduction to the Conference & Meet and Greet (Location: Abigail Adams Institute)

7:30PM: Advances in Robotics and Artificial Intelligence and the Theory of How it Works - Speaker: Samuel Cerqueira 

8:30PM: Q&A / Discussion (Group of young professionals)

October 12th, 2019 (Saturday) - The Philosophy and Anthropology

Location: Smith Campus Center

9:00AM: Philosophical Anthropology: What does it mean to be human? Can a Robot be a Person? - Speaker: Roberto Dell’Oro 

10:00AM: Can a Machine Act Ethically? Human action vs machine agency - Speaker: Maria Sulekova 

11:00AM: AI and Human Flourishing - Speaker: Mike Bocamazo 

12:00PM Question & Answer with Speakers - Moderator: Roberto Dell’Oro 

1:00PM Lunch Break

2:00PM Taking responsibility for Decisions about Technological Development and Resisting the Ideology of Technological Determinism - Speaker: Robert Marsland 

3:00PM Consciousness: What’s possible and what’s not? - Speaker: Fernando Cerullo 

4:00PM Question & Answer with Speakers - Moderator: Roberto Dell’Oro 

4:30PM Discussion Groups: Freedom and smart cities, Suffering and machine alleviation of suffering

5:30PM Closing Remarks: Person-centeredness, idea of a few controlling the many, call to action, how do we live our lives?

6:00PM Free Time to Enjoy Boston

The Speakers: 

Mike Bocamazo - Michael Bocamazo is a software engineer for Amazon Robotics.  He graduated from Olin College of Engineering with a degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering.  His work focuses on machine learning and he is interested in its interplay with the philosophy of science and metaphysics more broadly.  He is an AAI Fellow and led the "Internet and the Good Life" AAI discussion group series in Fall 2018.

Samuel Cerqueira Pinto - Samuel is currently a doctoral student at Boston University Robotics Laboratory, where he pursues research in multi-agent robotic systems. He holds special interest in the topic of how autonomous systems make decisions in uncertain environments, especially when the sensors are subject to faults. He participated multiple times in international autonomous soccer competitions, where teams of robots had to play soccer without any form of human intervention. As a robotics enthusiast, he is very interested in the recent advances in robotics and their impacts in our society.

Fernando Cerullo - Fernando is currently a Data Engineer at SmartSense by Digi, a company that delivers data-driven IoT solutions for food safety, facilities monitoring, and supply chain visibility, by providing actionable insight. He previously worked as a Director of Analytics at Sharp Action, and as a Technical Data Consultant and Software Developer for Waterfall Media Group. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. 

Roberto Dell’Oro - Dr. Dell’Oro is the Director of the Bioethics Institute and a Professor in the Department of Theological Studies at Loyola Marymount University.  He studied philosophy and theology at the Facoltà Teologica dell’Italia Settentrionale and the Catholic University of Milan (Italy), the Hochschule für Philosophie in Munich (Germany), and the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome.  In 1992, he earned a doctorate in theological ethics, under the direction of Klaus Demmer, with a dissertation on Dietrich von Hildebrand’s phenomenology of moral experience. From 1993 to 1995, he was a post-doctoral fellow in bioethics at the Kennedy Institute of Ethics, Georgetown University -- with the late Edmund Pellegrino, the former chair of the President’s Council of Bioethics, as a mentor.  In 1995, he became a Senior Scholar at the Center for Clinical Bioethics at Georgetown University, with teaching appointments in the Medical School and the Department of Philosophy.  In the fall 2003, Roberto moved to the Department of Theological Studies at LMU, where he is a full professor and the Director of the Bioethics Institute. From 2003 to 2006, he served as a clinical bioethicist at St. Francis Medical Center in Lynwood, CA, concentrating especially on ethical issues in obstetrics, perinatology and neonatology; from 2001 to 2007, he was the medical ethicist for the “Data and Safety Monitoring Board” at the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development at N.I.H. in Bethesda, Maryland; from 2007 to 2011, he chaired the bioethics committee at St. John’s Medical Center in Santa Monica, CA. Since 2014, he is also member of the Theological Commission of the Diocese of Los Angeles.

Maria Sulekova - Maria earned her PhD at the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore (Italy). She was a Fullbright Fellow to Georgetown to study the topic of “Ethical Problems Related to the Collection, Storage, and Analysis of Big Data in the field of Biomedicine” under Dr. Kevin Fitzgerald.