Edinburgh speaker series seminar

Speaker: Shannon Vallor (University of Edinburgh)

Title: The Digital Basanos: AI and the Virtue and Violence of Truth-Telling

Abstract: In ancient Greece, the basanos or touchstone had multiple meanings: a literal stone that tests the authenticity of gold by revealing its characteristic mark upon striking it, or metaphorically, a moral test of the authenticity of a life or a ruler. It also referred to a method of extracting truthful testimony by means of torture; specifically, of non-Greek slaves. The basanos thus embodies the interweaving of truth-telling with virtue, violence, and power in Western moral, political, and technical thought. In this talk I explore how contemporary uses of AI and data science have retraced and reconstituted the basanos in myriad ways, while also revealing a critical opportunity for the invention of new, more just and sustainable means of truth-telling.

Further information

The Edinburgh Speaker Series features talks on all areas of philosophy. For information, or to join the email list for these events, please contact Mahrad Almotahari. All are welcome, including all students (MA, MSc, PhD) and faculty in philosophy.


Mahrad Almotahari

Apr 21 2021 -

Edinburgh speaker series seminar

2021-04-21: The Digital Basanos: AI and the Virtue and Violence of Truth-Telling

Online via link invitation