Provably Beneficial AI - Monash Prato Dialogue

Event date:  5 August 2021

"Intelligence gives us power over the world and other entities therein. As AI progresses, how will we retain power, forever, over entities that will eventually be more powerful than ourselves?"

In the inaugural session of the Monash-Prato Dialogue series, distinguished AI researcher Professor Stuart Russell delivered an outstanding and thought-provoking lecture on the design of intelligent machines that benefit humanity. Most importantly, he challenged the AI community to ensure that intelligent machines are not designed or programmed with explicit objectives that subsequently fail to meet the evolving needs of their human creators and users.


Stuart Russell is a Professor of Computer Science at the University of California at Berkeley, holder of the Smith-Zadeh Chair in Engineering, and Director of the Center for Human-Compatible AI.

He is a recipient of the IJCAI Computers and Thought Award and from 2012 to 2014 held the Chaire Blaise Pascal in Paris. He is an Honorary Fellow of Wadham College, Oxford, an Andrew Carnegie Fellow, and a Fellow of the American Association for Artificial Intelligence, the Association for Computing Machinery, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

His book "Artificial Intelligence: A Modern Approach" (with Peter Norvig) is the standard text in AI, used in 1500 universities in 135 countries. His research covers a wide range of topics in artificial intelligence, with an emphasis on the long-term future of artificial intelligence and its relation to humanity. He has developed a new global seismic monitoring system for the nuclear-test-ban treaty and is currently working to ban lethal autonomous weapons.


It is reasonable to expect that AI capabilities will eventually exceed those of humans across a range of real-world-decision making scenarios. Should this be a cause for concern, as Alan Turing and others have suggested?

While some in the mainstream AI community dismiss the issue, Prof. Russell will argue instead that a fundamental reorientation of the field is required. Instead of building systems that optimize arbitrary objectives, we need to learn how to build systems that will, in fact, be beneficial for us.

To this end, it is useful to imbue systems with explicit uncertainty concerning the true objectives of the humans they are designed to help.  This new model for AI opens up many unexplored avenues for research.

Monash Prato Dialogue - Fostering Global Dialogue & Discovery in AI and Data Science

The Monash Data Futures Institute Prato Dialogue Distinguished Lecture Series aims to explore the evolving impact of data science and AI in society by fostering a global dialogue.

The lecture series takes its name from Monash University's campus in Prato, Italy. Located in the heart of Tuscany, our Prato Centre represents a European base for international research and education, intellectual and cultural exchanges and brings people together to meet, learn and collaborate with peers and colleagues from around the world.

Please note: this lecture series was virtual in 2021.

Schedule of lectures and links to video recordings: