University of Pittsburgh-Johnstown

Dr. Leben Discusses Robots in Society as 'Sean Carroll's Mindscape' Podcast Guest

Pitt-Johnstown Associate Professor of Philosophy Derek Leben, PhD, recently appeared as a guest on the podcast "Sean Carroll's Mindscape," to discuss the increased role of robots in society.

The podcast, hosted by physicist and popular author Sean Carroll, allowed Dr. Leben to discuss the prospects and challenges for designing morally acceptable autonomous machines, especially driverless vehicles.

The episode, titled “Derek Leben on Ethics for Robots and Artificial Intelligences” (Sean Carroll, is available on iTunes, YouTube, or through the podcast website.

“I found that Sean Carroll is not only a world-renowned physicist but also philosophy savvy,” said Dr. Leben, who received his PhD in Philosophy from Johns Hopkins University in 2012. “I think his show is one of the best platforms for interdisciplinary ideas from the academy.”

Dr. Leben has been featured in the President's Faculty Speaker Series at Pitt-Johnstown, where he discussed his book Ethics for Robots: How to Design a Moral Algorithm.

The book explores the prospect that, as machines are being used for more complex tasks in transportation, medicine, and war, they will inevitably be making decisions that potentially result in harm to humans. These machines require an ethics algorithm to evaluate which harms are better or worse than others.

He has delivered invited talks at MIT, Princeton, CMU, and Cal-Berkeley.

The University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown was founded in 1927 and is the first and largest regional campus of the University of Pittsburgh. Pitt-Johnstown is recognized by the Princeton Review as a “Best in the Northeast” college, by G.I. Jobs as a “Military Friendly School,” and by Pennsylvania Business Central as a "Top 100 Organization.” The distinctive combination of Pitt-Johnstown’s people, programs, and place results in exceptional performance in preparing students for career and professional success. Pitt-Johnstown.