23 August 2017

Professor Constantine Sandis to consult on how philosophical thought can benefit intelligent technologies

Constantine Sandis, Professor of Philosophy at University of Hertfordshire, has been invited by Microsoft to collaborate on research that is exploring interaction between humans and artificial intelligence. He has taken up a visiting researcher position at Microsoft Research Cambridge for three months.

Professor Sandis is a leading authority in the ‘philosophy of action’, which looks to explain why agents – be they human, animal, or machine – behave the way they do and studies the reasons underlying their communications. He argues that a narrow view of why we communicate could hinder the development of new communication technologies.

Philosophy meets technology

Professor Sandis will work with Microsoft Research on conversational AI technologies. Microsoft’s research team draws on diverse perspectives across the fields of social science, design and computer science to place the understanding of human values and behaviour at the centre of new artificial intelligence technologies.

Professor Sandis said: “It’s a great honour to be working with the team at Microsoft Research. I look forward to a fruitful collaboration between philosophy and technology that will enable us to co-develop a better understanding of machine agency and how human interactions with it can be optimised.”

Abigail Sellen, Principal Researcher and Deputy Director at Microsoft Research Cambridge, said: “We are delighted to be able to host Professor Sandis at Microsoft Research in Cambridge this summer. As a renowned philosopher of action, we welcome his unique perspective on natural language interaction and artificial intelligence as we build our interdisciplinary research agenda in these areas.”

Read Professor Sandis’s latest article for The Conversation on why we should not want to develop artificial intelligence that is capable of genuinely understanding us.