Berlin Lecture 2021

Add to Calendar 2021-12-02T18:00:002021-12-02T19:00:00 Berlin Lecture 2021The Leonard Wolfson Auditorium
The Leonard Wolfson Auditorium
John Tasioulas, Nigel Shadbolt, Tim Hitchens
Event type
Annual Lecture
Booking Required
There is provision for wheelchair users.
Contact name
College Secretary
Contact email

Join Professor John Tasioulas, Professor Sir Nigel Shadbolt and Sir Tim Hitchens for the 2021 Berlin Lecture: "AI and Ethics: The Sense of Reality".

The lecture will take place in the Leonard Wolfson Auditorium (LWA). The lecture will be also livestreamed in the Buttery overflow and online, click here to watch it live on our YouTube channel.

The College operates a mandatory indoor face coverings and one-metre social distancing policy, and we can therefore offer just under 60 spaces are in the LWA with an additional 30 overflow spaces in the Buttery. Free tickets for the LWA and Buttery overflow are bookable via Eventbrite at

Launched in 1990 to celebrate the 80th birthday of the College's Founding President, Sir Isaiah Berlin, the Berlin Lecture is in his own field of study, the history of ideas. Each Trinity Term, we welcome speakers of the stature of Professor Amartya Sen, Professor Roy Foster, Professor Timothy Garton Ash, Michael Ignatieff and Baroness Helena Kennedy.

The Berlin lecture is made possible thanks to an endowment gift from the Rothschild Foundation. 

Please see lecture abstract below.

Discussion of AI and Ethics often focusses on the ethical challenges AI could pose when it develops the highest levels of sophistication. Those discussions can certainly be fascinating. But that can also lead to a level of abstraction which provides little help to those faced with dilemmas in the next decade. And ethics which emerge from data, and aspire to exactness, may not always be relevant to the human condition. Professors Tasioulas and Shadbolt, coming at the issues from the viewpoints of ethicist and technologist respectively, argue that Isaiah Berlin’s concept of the pluralism of values is important in navigating these waters. We should not try to iron out inconsistencies, but should instead build the idea of a number of competing values into our approach to the subject. The starting point for the discussion will be Isaiah Berlin’s 1953 lecture and essay “The Sense of Reality”.