Professorship Lecture and Ceremony:
Autonomous Agents: Threat or Menace?
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Abstract – The field of Artificial Intelligence is enjoying renewed attention today, both for its pervasive influence on a wide range of technologies, and for excitement and concerns raised about its potentially transformative effects in the longer-term future. Predicting the future of AI is treacherous, but we should expect to deal with autonomous agents in increasing scope and numbers across a wide range of domains: transportation, social networks, finance, and military conflict, to name a few. Experience in regulating these agents will prepare us for the brave new world of coexisting human and computational decision makers.
Biography – Michael P. Wellman has enjoyed his place on the faculty of Computer Science & Engineering at the University of Michigan since joining as Assistant Professor in 1992. This followed four years of active duty service in the US Air Force and nine years of undergraduate and graduate study at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Wellman is proud advisor of 20 graduated PhDs, and teacher of a multitude of undergraduate and graduate students.
Wellman’s research applies principles of computation and economics to engineer rational decision-making strategies and analyze complex systems of interacting agents. A broad theme of his work is the interplay of technology and incentives in shaping behavior. His early investigations in computational markets led him to pioneering work in Internet auctions, later commercialized through startup company TradingDynamics. Subsequent research developed techniques for design and analysis of trading agents, and an array of related topics in electronic commerce. Current work combines empirical methods and game-theoretic concepts for strategic reasoning about complex multiagent domains, with particular focus on modeling financial markets and the financial system.
Wellman has served the university and the research community in numerous leadership positions. He is a Fellow of the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence, as well as the Association for Computing Machinery. In 2014 he was recognized by ACM/SIGAI with the Autonomous Agents Research Award. At the University of Michigan, Wellman is recipient of the Faculty Recognition Award, and of awards from the EECS Department for Teaching Excellence and Outstanding Achievement.