With morning registration starting slightly later, Sunday began with a very laid-back feeling. It was a sense that would only last as long as breakfast though as excitement for the afternoon’s great debate soon took over.
The morning beforehand was spent doing any last pieces of homework in the Sunday sunshine or polishing debate speeches. It was clear that for all our students, the afternoon couldn’t come soon enough!
The motion for the debate was ‘This House Believes That The Risks Posed By Artificial Intelligence Outweigh The Benefits’, and it was introduced by an expert guest speaker Dr. Shahar Avin. Shahar works at the Centre for the Study of Existential Risk, so was an excellent choice to introduce the topic. He remained impartial as he talked, mentioning several good points on both sides of the debate for our students to jump off of and reminding them not to fall into the ‘half-pipe of doom’ and assume advanced AI will create either utopia or dystopia.
Then it was our students’ turns to speak and the staff were thoroughly blown away by what they heard. It was clear that each speaker had put a great deal of practice and research into their speeches and everyone spoke not only eloquently but expertly. Factors discussed ranged from praising the usefulness of AI to pointing out the lack of control we currently have of it. When the time came for questions, there were so many intelligent and sensitive points raised that the debate could easily have continued for several extra hours.
Choosing a side to win was incredibly hard and in the end it was only by a very narrow margin that those students speaking in favour of the motion snatched victory. It’s a testament to how well the opposition spoke that it was one of their speakers, Wisam, who won best speaker.
Regardless of who received prizes, all the students were rightfully proud of their efforts and as a reward for all their hard work, the evening activity was a celebratory water fight! Needless to say, everyone went to bed happy yesterday.