Advisory Board

Professor Margaret A. Boden

The article The Age of Intelligent Machines: The Social Impact of Artificial Intelligence said

Is artificial intelligence in human society a utopian dream or a Faustian nightmare? Will our descendants honor us for making machines do things that human minds do or berate us for irresponsibility and hubris? Either of these judgments might be made of us, for like most human projects this infant technology is ambivalent. Just which aspects of its potential are realized will depend largely on social and political factors. Although these are not wholly subject to deliberate control, they can be influenced by human choice and public opinion. If future generations are to have reason to thank us rather than to curse us, it’s important that the public (and politicians) of today should know as much as possible about the potential effects-for good or ill-of artificial intelligence (AI).
What are some of the potential advantages of AI? Clearly, AI can make knowledge more widely available. We shall certainly see a wide variety of expert systems: for aiding medical diagnosis and prescription, for helping scientists, lawyers, welfare advisers, and other professionals, and for providing people with information and suggestions for solving problems in the privacy of their homes. Educational expert systems include interactive programs that can help students (schoolchildren or adults, such as medical students) to familiarize themselves with some established domain. This would give us much more than a set of useful tools and educational cribs. In virtue of its applications in the communication and exploration of knowledge, AI could revolutionize our capacity for creativity and problem solving, much as the invention of printing did.

Margaret A. Boden, OBE, ScD, PhD, 2 Hon DScs, 1 Hon DUniv, FBA, MAE, FAAAI, FRSA was the author of this article and is Research Professor of Cognitive Science at the University of Sussex.
Maggie was the founding-Dean of Sussex University’s School of Cognitive and Computing Sciences, a pioneering center for research into intelligence and the mechanisms underlying it — in humans, other animals, or machines. The School’s teaching and research involves an unusual combination of the humanities, science, and technology. Philosophy is studied within the School both as an undergraduate major and as a postgraduate (MA and DPhil) subject. She holds the following academic honors, by election:

  • Fellow (and former Vice-President) of the British Academy — and was Chairman of their Philosophy Section.
  • Member of the Academia Europaea.
  • Fellow of the American Association for Artificial Intelligence (AAAI).
  • Fellow of the European Coordinating Committee for Artificial Intelligence (ECCAI).
  • Life Fellow of the UK’s Society for Artificial Intelligence and the Simulation of Behaviour.
  • Member of Council of the Royal Institute of Philosophy.
  • Former Vice-President (and Chairman of Council) of the Royal Institution of Great Britain.
Maggie authored The Creative Mind: Myths and Mechanisms, Computer Models of Mind: Computational approaches in theoretical psychology, Mind As Machine: A History of Cognitive Science Two-Volume Set, Minds and Mechanisms: Philosophical Psychology and Computational Models, The Philosophy of Artificial Intelligence, Purposive Explanation in Psychology, and Jean Piaget (Penguin Modern masters), edited Artificial Intelligence (Handbook Of Perception And Cognition), The Philosophy of Artificial Life (Oxford Readings in Philosophy), and Dimensions of Creativity, and coedited The Evolution of Cultural Entities (Proceedings of the British Academy).
Maggie earned a ScD in Medical Sciences and Philosophy from the University of Cambridge in 1959 and earned a PhD in Social Psychology with the thesis “Purposive Explanation in Psychology” from Harvard University in 1968. In 2002, she was made an officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) by Queen Elizabeth II for services to cognitive science. She has been awarded honorary doctorates from the Universities of Bristol and Sussex and the Open University. Outside Sussex, she has lectured widely, to both specialist and general audiences, in North and South America, Europe, India, the USSR, and the Pacific. She has also appeared on many radio/TV programs, in the UK and elsewhere. Her work has been translated into sixteen foreign languages.
Read Mechanical Mind.