The Ethics and Empirics of Engineering Humanity Speaker Series, Fall 2022

Co-sponsored by the Department of Philosophy


Monday, October 24
Monday, November 28

3:45–5:45 p.m.
Blank Rome LLP Classroom (Room 102)
John F. Scarpa Hall
Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law

Continuing in Spring 2023


This interdisciplinary speaker series will cover ethical, philosophical and empirical issues surrounding the engineering of artificial and human intelligence. These include the dynamic interactions between AI and HI, how human-computer-interfaces affect humanity, how humans outsource thinking to computers and other related technologies, how digital technologies transform the production, dissemination and validation of knowledge, and how ethical values translate into technological and social decisions that affect who we are and who we are capable of being.

This speaker series has been made possible by a grant for cross-college teaching from the Office of the Provost for Teaching and Learning and is co-sponsored by the Department of Philosophy.

For further information, please contact the series organizers:
Brett Frischmann, The Charles Widger Endowed University Professor in Law, Business and Economics, Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law
Georg Theiner, Associate Professor, Department of Philosophy, Villanova University and Editor, Social Epistemology



Monday, October 24, 2022
"Ten Subliminal Mechanisms Used by Big Tech Companies to Alter Thinking and Behavior: Analyzing and Quantifying the Surprising Power of 'Ephemeral Experiences'"

Presented by Robert Epstein, PhD, Senior Research Psychologist, American Institute for Behavioral Research and Technology

Robert Epstein is a senior research psychologist at the American Institute for Behavioral Research and Technology (AIBRT) and the former editor-in-chief of Psychology Today magazine. A PhD of Harvard University, he has published 15 books on artificial intelligence, creativity and other topics, as well as more than 300 scientific and popular articles. Beginning in March 2020, he published a series of articles proposing a simple and economical way to eradicate the novel coronavirus. His 2015 report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on the “Search Engine Manipulation Effect” (SEME) describes one of the most powerful types of influence ever discovered in the behavioral sciences, and because SEME leaves no paper trail and is invisible to users, it is especially dangerous. Dr. Epstein's research suggests that SEME and a dozen other new methods of online influence he has discovered pose a serious threat to democracy, free speech and human autonomy. In July 2019, Dr. Epstein testified before Congress about his research on online manipulation; you can download his written testimony, updated and expanded in 2022. This research is also featured in the recent documentary film, The Creepy Line. A thought leader in the behavioral sciences, Dr. Epstein is typically interviewed by journalists more than 50 times a year. In early 2022, he was interviewed on The Joe Rogan Experience, one of the world's most popular podcasts. You can learn more about his work at or the AIBRT website, and you can learn more about the political bias he found in Google content in the 2020 presidential election. 

Monday, November 28, 2022

Susan Schneider, PhD
Founding Director, Center for the Future Mind, Florida Atlantic University
William F. Dietrich Distinguished Professor of Philosophy of Mind, Stiles-Nicholson Brain Institute and Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts and Letters, Florida Atlantic University
Co-director, Machine Perception and Cognitive Robotics Lab


Spring 2023 Guests

Monday, March 20

Emily Hund, PhD
Author, The Influencer Industry: The Quest for Authenticity on Social Media (Princeton University Press, forthcoming)
Research Affiliate, Center on Digital Culture and Society, University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg School for Communication

Monday, March 27

Matthias Scheutz, PhD
Professor of Computer Science, Director of the Human-Robot Interaction Laboratory and Director of the Human-Robot Interaction Degree Programs, Tufts University

Date to be announced

Barry Smith, PhD, FACMI
SUNY Distinguished Professor of Philosophy and Julian Park Chair, Department of Philosophy and Director, National Center for Ontological Research, The State University of New York, University at Buffalo