Human Rights series concludes with examining ‘Robot Rights’

WHEELING — The People’s University series on Human Rights concludes at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Ohio County Public Library in Wheeling with a discussion about “Robot Rights.”

In order to explore what is collectively called “Human Rights,” the Ohio County Public Library, in partnership with the Wheeling Academy of Law and Science (WALS) Foundation, has invited a diverse array of scholars and dynamic speakers from a variety of fields to present different perspectives on the development of Human Rights from the ancient to the modern worlds.

Communications Technology Professor David Gunkel, author of “Robot Rights,” will take on the Challenge of Artificial Intelligence on Tuesday night.

Society is in the midst of a robot invasion, as devices of different configurations and capabilities slowly but surely take up increasingly important positions in everyday society-self-driving vehicles, decision making systems, and social robots of various forms and functions. The question concerning the social status of these artifacts has been largely overlooked. This class will consider what has been previously regarded as unthinkable: whether and to what extent robots and other artifacts of our own making can and should have any claim to moral and legal standing, including the philosophical distinction (developed by David Hume) between “is” and “ought” in order to evaluate and analyze the different arguments regarding the question of robot rights.

Dr. Gunkel is distinguished teaching professor of Communication Technology at Northern Illinois University and the author of “The Machine Question: Critical Perspectives on AI, Robots and Ethics,” and “Of Remixology: Ethics and Aesthetics after Remix,” both published by the MIT Press, and other books. Gunkel is an award-winning educator, scholar and author, specializing in the study of information and communication technology with a focus on ethics. Formally educated in philosophy and media studies, his teaching and research synthesize the hype of high-technology with the rigor and insight of contemporary critical analysis. He is the author of more than 50 scholarly journal articles and book chapters, has written and published seven influential books, lectured and delivered award-winning papers throughout North and South America and Europe, and is co-editor of the Indiana University Press series in Digital Game Studies. His teaching has been recognized with numerous awards, including NIU’s Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching and the prestigious Presidential Teaching Professor. His new book, “Robot Rights,” was released Nov. 6 by The MIT Press.

In keeping with the mission of public libraries as sanctuaries of free learning for all people, the Ohio County Public Library created The People’s University, a free program for adults who wish to continue their education in the liberal arts. The People’s University features courses-taught by experts in each subject-that enable patrons to pursue their goal of lifelong learning in classic subjects such as history, science, philosophy and literature.

All People’s University — Human Rights programs are free and open to the public. Patrons may attend as many classes as they wish. There are no tests or other requirements. For more information, please email the library, call us at 304-232-0244, or visit the Reference Desk.

The People’s University is a free program for adults who wish to continue their education in the liberal arts, featuring courses taught by experts in each subject that enable patrons to pursue their goal of lifelong learning in subjects such as history, philosophy and literature. There are no grades, and patrons are welcome to attend all classes or programs on an individual basis.

Call the library at 304-232-0244 or visit for more information.


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