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The founding of The Karel Čapek Center for Values in Science and Technology

The founding of The Karel Čapek Center for Values in Science and Technology

Press Release 10/14/18

Advancements in contemporary science and technology present new and unforeseen challenges. The sequencing of human, animal and plant genome, the looming possibility of human enhancement, a fast growing automation, attempts at creating artificial intelligence and superintelligence, and the increased use of robotics in all spheres of life, are just a few examples of the new opportunities and challenges created by science and technology.

Even the recent history teaches us that the scientific and technological progress needs a thorough philosophical reflection, which would focus on its social and ethical implications. Science and technology wield an immense power to transform humanity and society. They can dramatically widen our horizons, deepen our understanding of the world, and significantly increase to the quality of life. But history also teaches us that ethical and legal reflection often doesn’t keep up with the fast growing advancement of science and technology, which can easily escape our control and endanger humanity, and life on Earth in general.

Until now, the Czech Republic did not have an interdisciplinary center which would explore the values involved in contemporary science and technology, and offer not only a theoretical reflection but also a practical solution to some of the problems that arise in this area. For this reason, three institutions of the Czech Academy of Sciences – the Institute of State and Law, the Institute of Philosophy and the Institute of Computer Science, together with the Faculty of Science of Charles University, joined forces in the joint Karel Čapek Center for Values in Science and Technology. The Center was formally founded at the ceremonial signing of an Agreement of Mutual Collaboration, with the participation of the Director of the Academy of Sciences Prof. Eva Zažímalová, on Friday, October 12, 2018.

The newly established center will focus on ethical and legal issues connected with the evolution of contemporary science and technology, especially in the areas of Biomedicine, Artificial Intelligence and Robotics. In addition to the professional research and international collaboration it is tasked with seeking practical applications to ethical and legal issues in the field of biomedicine, artificial intelligence and robotics. It will also be active in popularization and cooperation with the media.