Spring Distinguished Lecture with Kate Crawford: AI Now

On March 6th, Kate Crawford gave the Tech Policy Lab’s Spring Distinguished Lecture on “AI Now: Social and Political Questions for Artificial Intelligence.”

The impact of early AI systems is already being felt, bringing with it challenges and opportunities, and laying the foundation on which future advances in AI will be integrated into social and political domains. The potential wide-ranging impact makes it necessary to look carefully at the ways in which these technologies are being applied now, whom they’re benefiting, and how they’re structuring our social, economic, and interpersonal lives.

Kate Crawford is the co-founder (with Meredith Whittaker) of the AI Now Institute, a New York-based research center working across disciplines to understand the social and economic implications of artificial intelligence. She is a principal researcher at Microsoft Research New York City, a visiting professor at MIT’s Center for Civic Media, and a senior fellow at NYU’s Information Law Institute. Her research addresses the social implications of large scale data, machine learning and AI. Recent publications address the topics of data discrimination, social impacts of artificial intelligence, predictive analytics and due process, ethical review for data science, and algorithmic accountability.

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Fall Distinguished Lecture with James Suzman: Poison Arrows and Other “Killer Apps”

The Tech Policy Lab was honored to have anthropologist James Suzman join us in November 2017 to give our fall Distinguished Lecture on “Poison Arrows and Other ‘Killer Apps’: A Hunter-Gatherer Perspective on Tech and our Future.” Dr. Suzman discussed what we might learn from a better understanding of hunter-gatherers about technology and sustainability.

The success of a civilization can be measured by its longevity. In that light, Southern Africa’s hunting and gathering San (“Bushmen”) are the most enduring (and successful) civilization in the history of modern Homo sapiens. What tools do the San use and how has their tool use contributed to such longevity?  What of modern society?  Despite technological advancements that have enabled levels of productivity unimaginable a hundred years ago, the modern world faces broad sustainability challenges.  How might a better understanding of sustainable hunter-gatherer societies like the San help us respond to the social and economic impacts of modern technology, including challenges from increasing automation and computerization?  How might such understanding help us to meet broader sustainability challenges?

With a head full of Laurens van der Post and half an anthropology degree from St Andrews University under his belt, James Suzman hitched a ride into Botswana’s eastern Kalahari in June 1991. He has been living and working with Kalahari peoples ever since. Dr. Suzman holds a Ph.D. in social anthropology from Edinburgh University which he was awarded in 1996. Since then he has lived and worked with every major Bushman group in southern Africa, from the war ravaged Vasakele !Kung of southern Angola during the final phases of that civil war, to the highly marginalized Hai//om of Namibia’s Etosha National Park. Dr. Suzman is the Author of Affluence without Abundance: The Disappearing World of the Bushmen, published by Bloomsbury in 2017.

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Fall Distinguished Lecture with Terry Winograd and Alan Borning: My Politics as a Technologist

On November 30, 2016 the Tech Policy Lab organized a discussion at the intersection of personal politics and technical expertise with Terry Winograd and Alan Borning. Professor Terry Winograd is a leader in human-computer interaction and the design of technologies for development. Professor Winograd advised the creators of Google and was a founding member of Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility. Professor Emeritus Alan Borning is an expert in programming languages and human computer interaction. Professor Borning pioneered information systems for civic engagement, among them OneBusAway, a set of digital tools that provide real-time transit information, UrbanSim (think SimCity for real) and the Living Voters Guide, an experiment in social media for an informed electorate.

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Spring Distinguished Lecture with General Kevin Chilton: Deterrence in the 21st Century

General Chilton served 34 1/2 years in the US Air Force in various flying and staff positions and retired in 2011 as the Commander of U.S. Strategic Command, responsible for the plans and operations of all U.S. forces conducting strategic deterrence and DoD space and cyberspace operations. Prior to his work in Strategic Command, General Chilton commanded Air Force Space Command. During part of his Air Force career he served with NASA and was a Command Astronaut Pilot and flew 3 Space Shuttle missions.  General Chilton has a BS in engineering from the USAF Academy, a Masters in Mechanical Engineering from Columbia University and an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Creighton University.


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Fall Distinguished Lecture with Latanya Sweeney: How Technology Impacts Humans

How Technology Impacts Humans
Technology designers are new policy makers. No one elected them and most people do not know their names, but the arbitrary decisions they make when producing the latest gadgets and online innovations dictate the code by which we conduct our daily lives and govern our country. As technology progresses, every democratic value and every law comes up for grabs and will likely be redefined by what technology enables or not. Privacy and security were just the first wave. In this talk, let’s see how it all fits together or falls apart.

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As a professor at Harvard University, Latanya Sweeney creates and uses technology to assess and solve societal, political and governance problems, and teaches others how to do the same. One focus area is the scientific study of technology’s impact on humankind, and she is the Editor-in-Chief of the newly formed journal Technology Science. She was formerly the Chief Technology Officer at the Federal Trade Commission, an elected fellow of the American College of Medical Informatics, with almost 100 academic publications, 3 patents, explicit citations in 2 government regulations, and founded 3 company spin-offs. She has received numerous professional and academic awards, and testified before federal and international government bodies. Professor Sweeney earned her PhD in computer science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, being the first black woman to do so. Her undergraduate degree in computer science was completed at Harvard University. latanyasweeney.org.

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