Artificial Intelligence: Between the second Renaissance and the Terminator

Prof. Toby Walsh at the LogicLounge discussion in Vienna

On September 20th, 2018, one of the leading researchers and an icon for regulation of Artificial Intelligence (AI), professor Toby Walsh (UNSW Sydney), has in one-hour long public debate shared the insights on how AI has been improving our lives, and why the society needs to be economically, culturally, politically, and legally prepared for the AI of tomorrow. This event is part of the LogicLounge series of public discussions, organized by Vienna Center for Logic and Algorithms at TU Wien. The discussion with Toby Walsh was moderated by Franz Zeller (ORF).

The evolution of intelligent self-learning computer systems has the potential to make our lives better or worse. The opportunities and dangers of these processes, which are equal to the ones experienced during the Industrial Revolution depend on the choices we all make today. “One of the common misconceptions is that the future is already set and that we cannot do anything,” Toby Walsh in an interview for the Kurier.

Although AI systems surpass humans in certain specialized areas, all in all AI is still very stupid. Toby Walsh in the APA report: “But even stupid algorithms can be useful and recognize patterns better than humans.” The biggest challenge remains the societal trust in technologies that are not yet mature. These are the real problems that the contemporary stupid AI is bringing us. If we do not do anything, technology can worsen the growing inequality in our societies. It will take between 45 and 200 years to reach the point where computer systems are on a par with the human brain. During this time, it is about “equipping AI with values, philosophical questions behind it to clarify the impact on people’s lives,” said Toby Walsh in the interview for Der Standard.

While AI is making our lives already easier in a variety of jobs, it should not allow to decide who lives and who dies. In the area of autonomous weapons systems an arms race is taking place, which Professor Walsh describes in an interview for Ö1 as the third revolution in the warfare after gunpowder and nuclear weapons. Toby Walsh co-initiated an open letter calling for a ban on autonomous weapons systems; the letter was signed by, among others, Stephen Hawking, Tesla founder Elon Musk and Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak. The letter has brought researchers in AI worldwide together to call for the United Nations to ban autonomous weapons systems, as any other weapons of mass destruction, whether chemical or biological.

With education in the new world of work

The organizers of the LogicLounge are glad to greet about four classes of teachers and pupils from high schools in Vienna, who accepted the invitation to join the public debate with professor Walsh. Walsh for APA report: “These many changes in society “also included innovations in education from which much of the population benefited. It worries me, however, that we are now entering a profound change in the world of work and so far are not thinking about the important adjustments or putting them on their way.

Toby Walsh

Toby Walsh completed his studies in mathematics, theoretical physics and artificial intelligence at the Universities of Cambridge and Edinburgh. Today, he is a professor of artificial intelligence at the University of New South Wales and leads a research group at Australia’s Center of Excellence for ICT Research. Professor Toby Walsh is also the author of numerous books that educate the public about the myths, opportunities and risks of AI.

Book giveaway

Among the registered participants, who also attended the LogicLounge, Toby Walsh and Körber publishing house have given away a couple of signed copies of Toby Walsh´s book “It´s Alive: Wie künstliche Intelligenz unser Leben verändern wird”. The book, which was published in 2017, has been translated into German language and is on sale in Austria, from September 24th onwards. Photo gallery here.


The LogicLounge with Toby Walsh is organized by the Vienna Center for Logic and Algorithms at the Vienna University of Technology and is part of the public discussion series that emerged during the “Vienna Summer of Logic” 2014. The LogicLounge is aimed at a broad audience and offers discussions on the “science of thinking” in the fields of logic, philosophy, mathematics, computer science and artificial intelligence.

In recent years, the LogicLounge has traveled around the world as a regular event at the Computer Aided Verification Conference in honor of the late TU professor Helmut Veith, one of the founding fathers of the LogicLounge.

Between events in Oxford and New York, Professor Agata Ciabattoni, Thomas Eiter, and Stefan Szeider have brought the LogicLounge back to Vienna. The event team of the LogicLounge is part of the FWF-funded Doctoral College “LogiCS – Logical Methods in Computer Science”.

Past LogicLounge discussions


The LogicLounge with Toby Walsh on our Youtube channel.
The LogicLounge with Toby Walsh on, the world’s largest online academic video repository.

Photo Gallery

The full photo gallery is on Flickr here.

Photos: Nadja Meister CC-BY 4.0.



October 5, 2018
Interview for Ö1 Kontekst (English and German)
Künstliche Intelligenz, Unfreie Kunst, sagenhafter Reichtum und Sehnsucht nach Überlegenheit
(Artificial Intelligence, Art without freedom, sensational Wealth and yearning for Superiority)

September 26, 2018
Interview for Futurezone (English and German)
Warum künstliche Intelligenz uns 50 Jahre Schmerzen bringen könnte
(Why artificial intelligence could bring us pain for the next 50 years)

September 24, 2018
Radio interview for Ö1 DigitalLeben (English and German)
Achtung, Sie sprechen mit einem Bot!
(Attention, you are talking to a bot!)

September 23, 2018
Interview for Der Standard (German)
KI-Pionier: “Maschinen könnten uns in allen Fähigkeiten übertreffen”
(AI-Pioneer: “Machines´ capabilities could surpass Humans”)

September 22, 2018
Newspaper Interview for Der Standard (German)
Künstliche Intelligenz könnte eine zweite Renaissance bringen
(Artificial Intelligence could be the motor of the second renaissance)

Oe24 (German)
KI-Experte: Terminator wird real
(AI-Expert: Terminator will be real)

September 21, 2018
Science.ORF (German)
„Terminator ist noch 100 Jahre entfernt“
(No Terminator for at least the next 100 years)

APA.Science (German)
KI-Experte Toby Walsh: “Terminator ist noch 100 Jahre entfernt”
(AI-Expert Toby Walsh: No Terminator for at least the next 100 years) (German)
KI-Experte Toby Walsh: “Terminator ist noch 100 Jahre entfernt
(AI-Expert Toby Walsh: No Terminator for at least the next 100 years)


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