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March 18, 2022

Pauline Perspectives

The seventh Pauline Perspectives took place on 10 March Thursday in the John Colet Hall with only two months’ preparation. The event, moderated by High Master, Sally-Anne Huang, attracted about 200 families on-site and online for a high energy and intellectual debate about the motion: This House believes that the rise of Artificial Intelligence will do more harm than good to society.

Created in 2016, Pauline Perspectives is an annual community-wide event organised by the St Paul’s School Parents’ Group, featuring a debate by two teams on a current topic. Each team consists of three members, including an Old Pauline or St Paul’s member of staff, a parent and a School’s top debater. This popular event brings together the whole school community for an evening of intellect and fun.

The panellists were chosen based on the criteria of industry profile, debating experience and the link to St Paul’s School. This year’s s Pauline Perspectives has drawn some of the most prestigious panellists in Artificial Intelligence. The debate was opened by Old Pauline and the University of California, Berkeley Smith-Zadeh Chair in Engineering, Professor Stuart Russell OBE. Professor Russell was recently invited to give the 2021 BBC Reith Lectures’ Living with Artificial Intelligence.

Professor Russell made a fascinating introduction that refrains from answering the question at hand and sets up a compelling debate. His reminiscences of school meals, compulsory rugby, and how he became interested in AI are true inspirations for the young minds watching. His references to Alan Turing, Samuel Butler, and Dune showcased his

deep thinking about the interweave of humanity and the technology.

Following the open address by Stuart Russell, the chair of the St Paul’s Parents’ Group, Silvia Fiaccavento Levy hosted a pre-debate vote among the audience both in person as well as online, which showed that 75% in the attendance are against the motion.

After the Q&A, the chair of the St Paul’s Parents’ Group, Silvia Fiaccavento Levy hosted a post-debate vote, the proposition team consisting of Manuel, Dr Bridgham and Lucas persuaded the audience to shift their opinions by a staggering 13%, so in the end, about 62% of the attendance sill holds against the motion.

The Pauline Perspectives Committee extended sincere gratitude to the whole school community for working together to make the VII edition a huge success!

I wanted to thank you for such a great evening. I was impressed by the whole organisation, the quality of the speakers, the delicious food and the buzz and joy at being gathered in person for such a stimulating evening.


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