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BHSU Geek Speak addresses looming ethical problems artificial intelligence will face

Author: BHSU Communications/Monday, April 16, 2018/Categories: Events, College of Business and Natural Sciences, Community, Events, Faculty, 2018

“In the future, artificial intelligence will have to start making choices that humans haven’t ethically solved yet,” says Dr. Max Marc, associate professor of management information systems at Black Hills State University.

In his Geek Speak, “Artificial vs. Human Intelligence: The Coming Conflict over the Definition of Rationality,” Marc will discuss the looming ethical problems the human race will be confronted with as artificial intelligence advances. The presentation will be held at 4 p.m. Thursday, April 19 in Jonas 110. All Geek Speaks are free and open to the public.

Marc teaches computer courses in the College of Business at BHSU. Recently, his research in the field of artificial intelligence has bridged the field of technology with philosophy. Artificial intelligence is computer programming developed to accomplish tasks that are normally accomplished through human intelligence, such as visual perception, speech recognition, decision-making, and translation between languages.

A recent experiment dealing with artificial intelligence has caused Marc to reflect on its major implications. Programmers put self-driving car software into a precarious simulation. The car had to respond to an oncoming collision with limited time and only two options— it could save the passenger, or it could save the pedestrian. During this simulation, programmers realized that the software had to make a decision based on some factors—but what factors could they ethically program?

“In philosophy courses, there is the Trolley Problem,” Marc says. “In this problem, you have to decide which lives are most valuable to you in many different scenarios. Humans make those choices today, but artificial intelligence will have to deal with that in the future.”

To further complicate these programming dilemmas, Marc says, “We have biases toward our family, our tribe, and our kin. These biases are showing up in artificial intelligence.”

Marc plans to reflect on the immense power and pervasiveness of the intelligence systems that make our lives easier in many ways, yet come with their own dilemmas: “A lot of this is irreversible. Artificial intelligence is not going away, it’s going to keep seeping in everywhere—in subtle ways we don’t even realize.”

The Geek Speak lecture series, sponsored by the BHSU Honors program, features academic discussion and topics not normally discussed in the traditional classroom. The goal of the weekly lectures is to expose students and the community to diversity within the disciplines. Some Geek Speaks are also presented at the Jacket Zone store located on Main Street in downtown Spearfish. All lectures are free and open to the public.
  • April 26: “From Bach to Braindrill: Exploring the similarities between Metal and Classical music and fandom” by Dr. David Berberick, assistant professor of music
  • University Honors Capstone Defenses. Please join us as our Honors Scholars defend their capstone work to graduate as International University Scholars, University Scholars, and Research Scholars. Refreshments will be served. Please note: these defenses are held at the Joy Center.
Tuesday, April 24:  3-5 p.m.
Wednesday, April 25:  3-5 p.m.
Monday, April 30: 3-5 p.m.
Tuesday, May 1:  3-5 p.m.

To read short descriptions of each lecture topic, visit 
For more information, contact Dr. Courtney Huse Wika, director of the University Honors Program and associate professor of English, at 605-642-6918 or email

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