Celebrating Intellectual Excellence: Inaugural Bernard Williams Essay Prize

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Image by Claire Williams of the prize winners, award bearer and judges

The inaugural Bernard Williams Essay Prize in AI Ethics was recently awarded during a special lunchtime research seminar at the Institute for Ethics in AI in Oxford. We were especially honored to have Patricia Williams, the widow of the late Sir Bernard Williams, join us as a special guest to award the prizes at the event's conclusion.

Bernard Williams famously viewed philosophy as a humanistic enterprise aimed at making sense of ourselves and of human activities. He is also well-known for emphasizing the importance of distinct and conflicting values in our ethical lives, and opposing philosophical views that see our ethical lives as codifiable or calculable. He is also a great exemplar of interdisciplinary engagement in philosophy.


The competition, exclusively open to Oxford University undergraduate students, aims to encourage students to explore some of the deepest ethical questions thrown up by developments in Artificial Intelligence.

This year's competition attracted a substantial number of entries responding to the question, 'What decisions should computers not make?' After careful consideration, three finalists - Lina Alrawashdeh (PPE, Jesus College), Wyatt Radzin (PPE, Brasenose College) and Chase Mizzell (PPE, Harris Manchester College) - were invited to Oxford to present and defend their essays on Wednesday, 29th November. The presentations were then evaluated by judges: Professor John Tasioulas, Professor Peter Millican, and Dr. Charlotte Unruh.

The £500 prize was awarded to Lina Alrawashdeh, with Wyatt Radzin and Chase Mizzell as proximi accesserunt receiving £250. Patricia Williams also gave the winner the personal gift of a copy of Bernard Williams' Essays and Reviews: 1959-2002.

On the day of the seminar, the Director tweeted: "Three wonderful young people who did Oxford proud today. Our profound thanks to Patricia Williams, who honored us by presenting these brilliant students with their prizes. Many thanks to all who attended in person and online."

The event concluded with everyone enjoying a buffet lunch in the relaxed setting of the Institute's office space. This competition marks the commencement of what is poised to become an annual tradition, encouraging young scholars to engage with the field of AI ethics. If you would like to receive the latest updates from the Institute, sign up and join our mailing list.



Image taken by Claire Williams