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Dr John Zerilli

John Zerilli profile photo

Chancellor’s Fellow (Assistant Professor) in AI, Data, and the Rule of Law

PhD (ANU), MA (Sydney), LLM (Cambridge)

Tel: +44 (0)131 650 9774


John Zerilli is a philosopher with particular interests in cognitive science, artificial intelligence, and the law. He is the Chancellor’s Fellow (Assistant Professor) in AI, Data, and the Rule of Law at Edinburgh, a Research Associate in the Oxford Institute for Ethics in AI at the University of Oxford, and an Associate Fellow in the Centre for the Future of Intelligence at the University of Cambridge. Before taking up his current post, he was a Leverhulme Fellow at the University of Oxford. He was called to the Sydney bar in 2011.

To date, his research in AI ethics has been concerned chiefly with three problems: first, with whether the automation of government functions complies with principles of sound administration and the rule of law, and if not, whether the philosophy underpinning administrative law allows for deviation from these principles, in suitable cases, so as to accommodate automation; second, with whether the inherent dignity of human subjects, whose interests have been pronounced upon by autonomous systems, is offended by a denial of reasoned explanations for autonomous decisions, and if so, what form machine explanations might take, given that novel AI systems are opaque; and third, with whether human-AI teams can be engineered so as to strike the right balance between human judgment, AI proficiency, and overall safety.

John was the recipient of a Cambridge Commonwealth Trust scholarship to undertake the Cambridge LL.M. (2008), wrote the highest-ranking thesis of his year at Cambridge (2009), and won the Lucy Firth Prize (valued at $1000) for best publication in philosophy at Sydney University (2010). He has published numerous articles, canvassing law, political economy, philosophy, and cognitive science, and three books, of which the two most recent are The Adaptable Mind (Oxford University Press, 2020) and A Citizen's Guide to Artificial Intelligence (MIT Press, 2021). His published work appears in such journals as Philosophy of Science, Synthese, and Philosophical Psychology.


Twitter: @JohnZerilli