Pre-Conference Talk: Virtual Reality, Virtual Embodiment and Artificial Intelligence: New Questions for Policy and Applied Ethics

Thomas Metzinger will be presenting his pre-conference talk on virtual reality and applied ethics.

The talk deals with ethical problems of virtual-reality technology (VR) and artificial intelligence (AI), but also takes a look at cultural and psycho-social costs. In the first part of the talk I tackle recent developments in the area of ‘virtual reality’ and present an ethical codex for VR that I recently developed with my colleague Michael Madary. I discuss how brain-computer interfaces (BCI), that may allow a direct control of an ‘avatar’, match with my theory of consciousness which allows direct action in virtual worlds - but the focus is: What are the ethical and societal consequences of these new possibilities? In the second part of the talk I look at the current debate on the risks of AI, referring to the paper of the Foundation for Effective Altruism (2015). Many experts are of the view that AI involves not only global opportunities but also risks that will go beyond those of nuclear technology - which were also underestimated for a long time.

Thomas Metzinger
Professor of Theoretical Philosophy at the Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz and Adjunct Fellow at the Frankfurt Institute for Advanced Study (FIAS). Metzinger is past president of the German Cognitive Science Society (2005-2007) and of the Association for the Scientific Study of Consciousness (2009-2011). His focus of research lies in analytical philosophy of mind and cognitive science, as well as in connections between ethics, philosophy of mind and anthropology.

Metzinger is the author of ca. 150 publications, including “Being No One: The Self-Model Theory of Subjectivity” (MIT Press, 2004), “The Ego Tunnel: The Science of the Mind and the Myth of the Self” (Basic Books, 2009). His work is cited over 500 times per year (GoogleScholar: Metzinger is the editor of two major projects on and