Moral Quandaries and Possibilities in AI

It is predicted that artificial entities such as robots and virtual agents will form vital parts of our social lives in the future, helping not only with functional tasks but also providing social support and care. Besides challenging the legal system, which still assumes a dichotomy between a person and an object, these novel artificial forms will raise ethical quandaries as the line starts to blur. Many of these judgements are going to rest on the perceived mental capacity of the agent/robot. Is it able to think and exert self-control? Can it feel and sense like humans can? Depending on how these questions are answered, behavioural responses and moral considerations are likely to vary. In this talk I will explore how emotions can shape the extent to which we see mind and moral ability in a target. Furthermore, I will discuss whether novel entities might change perceptions of ourselves and how this could be used in the future to instigate new behaviour.


Highlights will include:

  • What makes an artificial agent human?
  • How do emotions contribute to perceptions of humanness?
  • Can AI challenge who we want to be in the future?
  • How to change self-perceptions for the better?


Dr Eva Krumhuber obtained her PhD degree in psychology in 2008 for which she won the Hadyn Ellis Prize for Outstanding Dissertation. Subsequent work in Switzerland and Germany led to the development of new animation software (FACSGen) for an award-winning market research project (EmoScan) as well as an EU-funded interactive game (eCUTE) on education in cultural awareness and understanding. Besides her contributions to psychology, her research has proven relevant in industry for the successful modelling of emotions in virtual characters, being commercially used by the film and video games industry. She has published widely within the field of psychology and computer science and has been a member of the editorial board of the Journal of Nonverbal Behavior since 2010. In 2015 she co-organized the 1st Joint Conference on Facial Analysis, Animation and Auditory-Visual Speech Processing which was held in Vienna, Austria.