Cognitive Semiotics Seminar: "AI Zoosemiotics: Cognitive Opportunities and Moral Challenges" (Prof. Massimo LEONE, University of Turin, Freiburg Institute for Advanced Studies)

30 May 2024 15:00 to 17:00 Seminar

In the last seminar before the summer, we are happy to have a presentation (via zoom) from one of the currently most prominent semioticians in the world: Prof. Massimo Leone. As you can see from his bio below, he has not only published more than extensively and bridged geographic and cultural boundaries, but also the various strands within semiotics: cultural, bio, social... Given that the topic is the potential advantages (and risks) of AI as applied to animal (and animal-human) communication, the talk should of high relevance for cognitive semiotics as well! So I hope that as many of us are able to join on this opportunity, in H402 if you can, and if not through the zoom link, with cameras on! Welcome!

This presentation explores the ethical considerations and technological challenges associated with using artificial intelligence (AI) to decipher non-human animal communication. Inspired by leading research initiatives and employing advanced AI methodologies, this inquiry goes beyond translating animal languages to critically examine the moral and practical implications of bridging communicative divides between humans and other species. The core focus is on AI's role in understanding animal communications and the subsequent effects on human relationships with the natural world. By integrating semiotics, ethical philosophy, and animal communication studies, the aim is to establish a robust ethical framework that tackles issues such as consent, animal welfare, and the potential for anthropomorphism. The anticipated outcomes advocate for a shift towards more respectful and ethically informed approaches in interspecies communication research, fostering deeper empathy and connection across species boundaries.

Massimo Leone is Professor of Philosophy of Communication, Cultural Semiotics, and Visual Semiotics at the Department of Philosophy and Educational Sciences, University of Turin, Italy, part-time Professor of Semiotics in the Department of Chinese Language and Literature, University of Shanghai, China, associate member of Cambridge Digital Humanities, University of Cambridge, Director of the Institute for Religious Studies at the “Bruno Kessler Foundation”, Trento, and Adjunct Professor at the University of Caracas, Venezuela. He has been visiting professor at several universities in the five continents. He has single-authored fifteen books, edited more than sixty collective volumes, and published more than six hundred articles in semiotics, religious studies, and visual studies. He is the winner of a 2018 ERC Consolidator Grant and of a 2022 ERC Proof of Concept Grant. He is editor-in-chief of Lexia, the Semiotic Journal of the Center for Interdisciplinary Research on Communication, University of Turin, Italy, co-editor-in-chief of Semiotica (De Gruyter), and co-editor of the book series “I Saggi di Lexia” (Rome: Aracne), “Semiotics of Religion” (Berlin and Boston: Walter de Gruyter), and “Advances in Face Studies” (London and New York: Routledge).

About the event:

30 May 2024 15:00 to 17:00

IRL: room H402, online: https://lu-se.zoom.us/j/61502831303


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