Presidential Lecture Series Features Robert Skidelsky

On April 19, Central European University (CEU) welcomes distinguished economist Robert Skidelsky, Emeritus Professor at the University of Warwick, to deliver the first lecture of his four-part series, “Humans and Machines,” about automation and the future of work. All events are open to the public and will be held at 6 p.m. in the CEU Auditorium: “The Future of Work” April 19; “The Quest for Perfectibility” April 24; “Transhumanism” May 3; and “Extreme Events” May 10.

“CEU is pleased to invite the university community, and our partners in Vienna, to an exciting series of lectures by Lord Skidelsky on the economic and ethical implications of the interaction between humans and machines,” remarked CEU President and Rector Shalini Randeria. She added, “The Presidential Lecture series underlines the important role universities play in the study of dilemmas arising from the ever increasing use of artificial intelligence in all aspects of our lives today.”

Robert Skidelsky is an eminent authority on Keynesian economics. He was made a member of the House of Lords in 1991 and elected a fellow of the British Academy in 1994. His most recent publications include “Money and Government” (2018),  “What’s Wrong with Economics?: A Primer for the Perplexed” (2020) and “Economic Sanctions: A Weapon out of Control”? (2022). He is a regular contributor to Project Syndicate and has recently written and filmed a series of lectures on the History and Philosophy of Economics, available as an open online course in partnership with the Institute for New Economic Thinking. Previously, Lord Skidelsky addressed CEU with the Presidential Lecture on November 23, 2020, titled, “Economics and Capitalist Crisis: Different Perspectives and Current Relevance.”

For the series “Humans and Machines” the first lecture explores the impact of tools and machines on the world of work. How might human job-holders be replaced by machines, and what social arrangements best ensure that the fruits of productivity gains are fairly distributed?  The talk will explore the drive to optimize production alongside the moral value of work. Later in April, he focuses on the use of technology as an instrument of control during his second appearance. The debate here is between those who champion the ‘democracy of the internet’ and those who emphasise its potential, and use, for purpose of surveillance and control.

Next Lord Skidelsky will examine the theory, potential and current practice of Artificial Intelligence (AI). A particular thread in this discussion, namely transhumanism, champions the attempt to develop a moral superintelligence to save humanity from the consequences of merely human intelligence. Finally, to conclude the series, the fourth lecture discusses today’s Doomsayers. Bearing in mind a duty to those yet unborn, the talk considers the potential attitude one should take regarding the further development of technology during our current lifetimes.

Visit here to register for CEU’s Presidential Lecture Series “Humans and Machines.