The AMA is a special Reddit subforum in which personalities or normal people partake in Q&A sessions with Reddit users, trying to answer all questions to the extent of their possibilities.
For the notorious scientist’s session, Reddit will change the usual live format of the event. Typically, the Q&A takes place in real time, as guests try to answer the public’s questions in a single, rolling thread. In this case, users can submit questions during the next week, starting Monday at 8 a.m. with the deadline being on Tuesday, 4 August. Hawkins will then answer submitted questions over the course of the following weeks.
The questions can be submitted on the subreddit /r/science. Hawkins suffers from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) which has him confined to communicating with the aid of a computer amongst others, which makes a live session essentially impracticable. This is the first time on Reddit that this format will be employed.
According to tech site CNET, Hawking is especially eager to discuss the topic of artificial intelligence. The AMA is part of a joint campaign by Wired magazine and Nokia which promotes open discussion on how technology can be used to benefit human life. Hawkins is probably the most notorious scientist concerned with technology evolving past the point of control. He and a couple of other technology experts signed an open letter edited by the Future of Life Institute, which specifically addresses some of the issues regarding the rapid advancement of technology.
Some of the questions posed tackle problems such as lethal autonomous weapons, the modality in which AI’s can interpret human data and how it affects privacy, and the role of computer scientists in ethics and use laws during the development and use of AIs.
The AMA forum was at the center of a recent controversy which ended with the resignation of Reddit’s interim CEO Ellen Pao , and the appointment of site co-founder Steve Huffman in her place. The forum’s manager, Victoria Taylor, was dismissed without any public reason last month, with Reddit ownership allegedly asking the forum’s unpaid moderators to take over, which included appointing Q&A sessions with celebrities. This, as well as older friction between moderators and the site’s ownership, led to a massive protest which saw many popular subreddits becoming unavailable to the public.
Image Source: quantumdiaries.org