Nandita Biswas Mellamphy

"Humans In, On, or Out Of the Loop?  Human-Centrism in AI Ethics"

In this presentation, I problematize the dominant normative framework of ‘human-centered’ A.I. that privileges human command as the only viable ethical response to the challenges posed by artificial intelligences.  This ethical paradigm would have humans be firmly ‘in-the-loop’ of command over non-human entities.  But there are good reasons for rejecting this version of control. I argue that post-humanism provides a strong theoretical basis for questioning the assumptions of human-centrism. In outlining and considering three distinct models of oversight, control and command  –– humans-IN-the-loop (HIL), where humans are in control;  humans-ON-the-loop (HOL), where humans have some control; and humans-OUT-OF-the-loop (HOOL), where control is non-human — I argue that current discussions of AI ethics are strongly anthropocentric (human-IN-the-loop orientation) and could be challenged and supplemented by more critical and speculative alternatives.


Nandita Biswas Mellamphy is Associate Professor of Political Science, as well as an affiliate member in Women’s Studies and Feminist Research, core faculty (and former Associate Director, 2011-12) in the Centre for the Study of Theory and Criticism, and current Director of The Electro-Governance research group, all at The University of Western Ontario.  She is also a research fellow of the Center for Transformative Media (New School/USA) and the Centre for War and Technology (Bath University/UK). Her research puts Political Theory in conversation with Philosophy, Critical Gender/Race Theories, Science and Technology Studies, Media/Information Studies, and Terrorism Studies. She is (co)author and (co) editor of several works including The Three Stigmata of Friedrich Nietzsche (2011), The Digital Dionysus: Nietzsche and the Network-centric Condition (2016), “Apps and Affect” (2015), “Larval Terror and the Digital Darkside” (2014), “Cosmopolitanisms, Social Inclusion, and Global Futures” (2018) and “Humancentrism and A.I. Ethics” (forthcoming).  She is currently Associate Editor for the peer-reviewed international journal Interconnections: Journal of Posthumanism.