Obert C. Tanner Lectures on Artificial Intelligence and Human Values

Eric Horvitz

Microsoft Chief Research Scientist Eric Horvitz’ lecture was hosted by the University of Michigan in partnership with Michigan Engineering. U-M is one of nine institutions worldwide that hosts an annual Tanner Lecture on Human Values.


AI advancements have been motivated and inspired by human intelligence for decades. How can we use AI to expand our knowledge and understanding of the world and ourselves? How can we leverage AI to enrich our lives?

In his Tanner Lecture, Eric Horvitz explored these questions and more, tracing the arc of intelligence from its origins and evolution in humans, to its manifestations and prospects in the tools we create and use. Along this arc, he highlighted several key milestones and recent breakthroughs in AI that have enabled new tools and deeper understandings of the computational foundations of intelligence.

He emphasized the importance and potential of creating and applying AI systems that can collaborate closely with people and highlight directions forward with examples of systems that leverage, complement, and augment human capabilities.

Finally, his talk addressed challenges and opportunities ahead, as we develop and deploy powerful AI tools that will extend our reasoning and imagination in new ways. Horvitz makes the case that this is a pivotal moment to engage in a cross-sector dialogue about the development, use, and governance of AI technologies to ensure that they reflect and respect our values and aspirations as individuals and society.

The event was moderated by Ben Kuipers, Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Michigan Engineering. Introductions were made by Santa Ono, President of the University of Michigan and Alec D. Gallimore, the Robert J. Vlasic Dean of Engineering at the University of Michigan.


Tanner Lectures are funded through the generosity of the late University of Utah Professor of Philosophy, industrialist, and philanthropist, Obert Clark Tanner, and his wife, Grace Tanner.

Professor Tanner wrote: I hope these lectures will contribute to the intellectual and moral life of mankind. I see them simply as a search for a better understanding of human behavior and human values. This understanding may be pursued for its own intrinsic worth, but it may also eventually have practical consequences for the quality of personal and social life.

Although the Tanners established the supporting endowment in 1978, Joel Feinberg’s April 1977 lecture at U-M inaugurated the international series of Tanner Lectures. Each year, U-M has a Tanner Lecture combined with an interdisciplinary symposium to which we invite distinguished scholars from around the world.