Professor Joanna Bryson

Associate Professor (Reader)
Department of Computer Science
University of Bath

The Bioanthropology of Intelligent Technology

Understanding how society changes itself as it develops intelligence-extending technologies is key to recognising appropriate measures for both developing and regulating AI. In this talk I root “AI ethics” in the history and even prehistory of intelligent artefacts like language and writing, then describe the role of intelligence and communication in cooperation and competition. From here I look at the political economy of distance-reducing technologies more generally, and information communication technologies, including AI in particular. Finally I make concrete recommendations about what this implies about how we should incorporate AI technologies into our discourse, households, and laws.


Joanna J Bryson is an Associate Professor (Reader) in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Bath. At Bath, Joanna founded and led for several years the Intelligent Systems research group. Her research topics vary from artificial intelligence, autonomy, robots ethics, and human cooperation. Her work has appeared in venues ranging from a reddit to Science. From 2010 to 2015, Bryson repeatedly published Robots Should be Slaves, helped the EPSRC in defining the Principles of Robotics, and became the Visiting Academic at University of Princeton Center for Information Technology Policy.

Bryson has also joined a hand in consulting The Red Cross on autonomous weapons and contributed to an All Party Parliamentary Group on AI. In 2017, Cognition X proudly presented her as the winner of an Outstanding Achievement Award.

Bryson is also a member of the College of the British Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). Adaptive Behavior, AI & Society, Connection Science, to name a few, are those journals where the professor works as a part of the editorial board.

She has recently worked on AI Policy with the OSCE, OECD, Council of Europe, and parts of the Swiss, Canadian, and British Governments.

Bryson’s first degree is in Behavioral Science (non-clinical psychology) from Chicago (1986). She took her first AI course in 1991 and soon later earned an MSc in AI and an MPhil in Psychology from Edinburgh (1992, 2000). One year later, she finished her Ph.D. in AI from MIT.

“The impact on our society is so spectacular that our institutions are struggling to keep pace, including the social sciences that might help us understand the promises and risks of our new situation”.

You can listen to our interview with Joanna here.