Faversham Stoa is a pub philosophy discussion group. We meet the 3rd Tuesday of every month from 7.30 to 9.30pm in the The Bull in Tanners Street. There's no charge for membership and everyone is welcome to drop in. Just bring your brain and some beer money!

Next Meeting – “Artificial Intelligence & Artificial Consciousness”

Tuesday 21 October 7.30 — 9.30pm, at the Bull

As our speaker was unable to attend last month's meeting we are repeating the topic this month so that he can present his paper properly

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a strange topic riddled with criticism, contradictions and controversy and yet has very successfully solved many problems and has become embedded in all areas of life today.

The term was coined in the late 1950s and throughout the 50s and 60s in both science fiction and the media we were being promised a future in which autonomous, human-looking robots would be doing all of our drudge work: building cars and doing our housework. The much-hyped robotic future never came to fruition and so the AI industry has seen long periods in which funding to research projects were cut. On the other hand there have been great successes in the area but researchers complain that whenever an AI solution is implemented successfully it ceases to be called AI: it's just ordinary computing. They call this the AI effect.

How many of us using Google on a daily basis are aware that we are using a very sophisticated AI engine or 'bot' as the nerds like to call them? AI is all around us but once it has become part of our mundane routine it ceases to be magical and we stop calling it AI. A popular adage in the AI community is Tesler’s Theorem: "AI is whatever hasn’t been done yet".

However, the fundamental philosophical issue in AI is not whether machines can act intelligently, that has been demonstrated beyond doubt, but whether they can be conscious. And if we conclude they can be conscious how does that affect our view of ourselves as autonomous, self-conscious agents? Is AI a threat to our sense of Humanity?

Graham Warner brings out this distinction in his excellent essay, 'Artificial Intelligence, Artificial minds, Artificial Consciousness?' which will form the basis of our discussion and is a MUST READ!

Come along and explore AI at the Stoa (it will be a multi-media presentation as befits the topic) but leave your robots at home. They might feel a little embarrassed by the discussion!



All about the Stoa

What is the Stoa?

The Stoa is a philosophy discussion group which meets every month in the The Bull pub in Tanners Street, Faversham to talk about serious issues but without being too solemn about it. None of us are professional, academic philosophers and although it's "popular" philosophy we're interested it's never dumbed-down!

When do you meet?

We meet on the 3rd Tuesday of every month from 7.30 — 9.30pm although many members continue informal discussion in the bar after the meeting finishes.

Where do you meet?

We meet in the back bar of The Bull pub in Tanners Street, Faversham, ME13 7JL. Directions...

How much does it cost?

There is no charge for membership but we do have a whip-round of £1 each just to cover the cost of the room.

What kinds of things do you discuss?

Browse through our Topics page to see what we've discussed at previous meetings.

What do you do?

Each meeting is led by a member or a visiting speaker and is generally based one or more articles we have all read (although it's not critical that you read the articles beforehand). Links to all the articles can be found on the Topics page and the dates of meetings can be found on the Schedule page (which includes a link back to the relevant reading).

Who can attend?

Everybody is welcome!

How can I get on your mailing list?

Drop us a line via the Contact form and you will be receive our monthly bulletin "News from the Stoa".

Why 'Stoa'?

In classical Greek architecture the stoa was the covered promenade attached to the marketplace which became the place where philosophers frequently met to dialogue and debate. In fact it was this habit of regularly meeting in the stoa that earned the 'Stoic' school their epithet: it simply meant "guys who hang out at the stoa and chew the fat!". I like to think that the title of our group suggests an open marketplace where ideas can be traded and critical thinking is our currency.

You might also like to compare the ancient Greek stoa with our marketplace at the centre of Faversham. There are some very close similarities and so that gives us another association with the title.

What is Marginalia?

Marginalia is a blog containing random notes, scribbles, comments, jottings and drolleries on a variety of philosophical topics, including those discussed at the Faversham Stoa. While the notes in the topics section of this site are intended to be fairly impartial, the ideas and polemics in Marginalia are unapologetically my own. You are welcome, indeed encouraged, to append your comments to the entries and start a conversation.


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