Digital Dystopias: How Michael Crichton Taught Me To Start Worrying And Fear The Future

Speaker: Joanna Radin
Date recorded: Jun 16, 2017
Joanna Radin speaks about the techno-scientific subjectivity of thriller author/fear-mongerer Michael Crichton.

Joanna Radin discusses the writing of Jurassic Park author Michael Crichton. Although Crichton is most famous for imagining an island of dinosaurs, metaphors in his non-fiction articles about computers that are even more terrifying.

This talk was presented for the event Future Perfect. In a moment when the future increasingly feels like a foregone conclusion, Future Perfect brought actors from a variety of world-building disciplines (from art and fiction, to law and science) together to explore the uses, abuses, and paradoxes of speculative futures. Curated by Data & Society artist-in-residence Ingrid Burrington, Future Perfect was an experimental one-day, invitation-only conference originating from insights of the institute’s regular Speculative Fiction Reading Group.

Joanna Radin is Assistant Professor of the History of Science and Medicine at Yale where she teaches feminist and indigenous STS and the history of biomedicine and anthropology. Before receiving her PhD in History and Sociology of Science at UPenn she studied science communication at Cornell and worked as a risk communication specialist. She is the author of Life on Ice: A History of New Uses for Cold Blood, (University of Chicago Press, 2017) and a co-editor of Cyropolitics: Frozen Life in a Melting World (MIT Press, 2017). Radin is currently writing a book about science fiction, subjectivity, and biomedicine.

Future Perfect: Designer and Discarded Genomes

Speaker: Ruha Benjamin
Date recorded: Jun 16, 2017
Ruha Benjamin presents her talk ‘Designer and Discarded Genomes: Experimenting with sociological imagination through speculative methods,’ a series of speculative field notes on the possibility of human prototrophy.

Ruha Benjamin’s presentation entitled “designer and discarded genomes: experimenting with sociological imagination through speculative methods” uses speculative field notes to explore the antecedents and implications of the current era of genetic engineering.

This talk was presented for the event Future Perfect. In a moment when the future increasingly feels like a foregone conclusion, Future Perfect brought actors from a variety of world-building disciplines (from art and fiction, to law and science) together to explore the uses, abuses, and paradoxes of speculative futures. Curated by Data & Society artist-in-residence Ingrid Burrington, Future Perfect was an experimental one-day, invitation-only conference originating from insights of the institute’s regular Speculative Fiction Reading Group.

Ruha Benjamin is Assistant Professor of African American Studies at Princeton University, author of People’s Science: Bodies and Rights on the Stem Cell Frontier (Stanford University Press), and 2016-17 fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study. Her work examines the social dimensions of science, technology, and medicine with a particular focus on the relationship between innovation and inequity. She earned her PhD in Sociology from UC Berkeley, completed fellowships at UCLA’s Institute for Genetics and Society and Harvard’s Science, Technology, and Society Program, and has received grants and fellowships from the American Council of Learned Societies, National Science Foundation, Ford Foundation, and California Institute for Regenerative Medicine among others. Her work is published in numerous journals including Science, Technology, and Human Values; Ethnicity & Health; and Annals of the American Academy of Social and Political Science.

Databites 100 Series: Machine Learning: What’s Fair and How Do We Decide?

Speaker: Suchana Seth
Date recorded: Jun 14, 2017
Suchana Seth speaks about different definitions of fairness in the context of machine learning.

Suchana Seth speaks about different definitions of fairness in the context of machine learning. Suchana Seth is a physicist-turned-data scientist from India. She has built scalable data science solutions for startups and industry research labs, and holds patents in text mining and natural language processing. Suchana believes in the power of data to drive positive change, volunteers with DataKind, mentors data-for-good projects, and advises research on IoT ethics. She is also passionate about closing the gender gap in data science, and leads data science workshops with organizations like Women Who Code.

Databites 100 Series: Stats and the City: A Data-Driven Approach to Criminal Justice and Child Welfare

Speaker: Ravi Shroff
Date recorded: Jun 14, 2017
Ravi Shroff speaks about his research studying predictive models for decision-making in city and state government.

Ravi Shroff speaks about his research studying predictive models for decision-making in city and state government. Ravi Shroff is a Research Scientist at New York University’s Center for Urban Science and Progress (CUSP), where he specializes in computational social science. His work involves using statistical and machine learning techniques to understand the criminal justice system, child welfare, and related urban issues. At Data & Society, Ravi will examine how simple computational models can be designed and implemented in city government. He studied mathematics at UC San Diego (PhD) and applied urban science and informatics at CUSP (MS).

Databites 100 Series: Data Science Reasoning

Speaker: Anne Washington
Date recorded: Jun 14, 2017
Anne Washington talks about the risks of efficiency and the need for a common language when speaking about data science and public policy.

Anne Washington talks about the risks of efficiency and the need for a common language when speaking about data science and public policy. Anne L. Washington is a computer scientist and a librarian who specializes in public sector technology management and informatics. She is an Assistant Professor at George Mason University. As a digital government scholar, her research focuses on the production, meaning, and retrieval of public sector information. She developed her expertise on government data working at the Congressional Research Service within the Library of Congress. She also served as an invited expert to the W3C E-Government Interest Group and the W3C Government Linked Data Working Group. She completed a PhD from The George Washington University School of Business. She holds a degree in computer science from Brown University and a Master’s in Library Information Science from Rutgers University. Before completing her PhD, she had extensive work experience in the private sector including the Claris Software division of Apple Computers and Barclays Global Investors.

Databites 100 Series: Trade Secrets and Black-Boxing Criminal Justice

Speaker: Rebecca Wexler
Date recorded: Jun 7, 2017
Rebecca Wexler speaks about the dangers of Trade Secrets and Black-boxing Criminal Justice.

Rebecca Wexler speaks about the dangers of Trade Secrets and Black-boxing Criminal Justice. Rebecca Wexler works with The Legal Aid Society to advocate for more lenient criminal discovery laws; draft legal motions to compel disclosure of data and source code for forensic technologies; and build partnerships with technology companies to facilitate a reasoned approach to defendants’ requests for user information.

Databites 100 Series: The DNA Revolution: Merging Data with Biology

Speaker: Daniel Grushkin
Date recorded: Jun 7, 2017
Daniel Grushkin speaks about the origin of GenSpace, The DNA Revolution, and merging data with biology.

Daniel Grushkin speaks about the origin of GenSpace, The DNA Revolution, and merging data with biology. Daniel Grushkin is the Executive Director and cofounder of Genspace, a nonprofit community laboratory dedicated to promoting citizen science and access to biotechnology.

Databites 100 Series: Media Manipulation and Disinformation Online

Speaker: Alice Marwick
Date recorded: Jun 7, 2017
Alice Marwick speaks about Data & Society’s recent report on Media Manipulation and Disinformation Online.

Alice Marwick speaks about Data & Society’s recent report on Media Manipulation and Disinformation Online. Alice Marwick leads the Media Manipulation project at Data & Society, and will join the Communication department at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill in the Fall.

The Ambivalent Internet: Mischief, Oddity, and Antagonism Online

Speaker: Whitney Philips and Ryan M. Milner
Date recorded: May 18, 2017
Whitney Philips and Ryan M. Milner discuss and share excerpts of their new book, The Ambivalent Internet: Mischief, Oddity, and Antagonism Online.

Whitney Philips and Ryan M. Milner explore the weird and mean and in-between that characterizes everyday expression online, from absurdist photoshops to antagonistic Twitter hashtags to ambivalent online play with the 2016 U.S. Presidential election. Through these discussions, the book shows how digital media can help and harm, bring together and push apart, and make laugh and make angry in equal measure. Most significant to the current political climate, it shows how these media can equally facilitate and restrict voice. Not only do digital spaces and tools empower hate groups like the white nationalist alt-right and other extremist figures, they also empower progressive pushback against these same groups and figures—along with a whole range of folkloric play that eludes easy classification. By foregrounding the fundamental ambivalence of digital media, they demonstrate that there are no easy solutions, and no simplistic, one-size-fits-all answers, to pressing questions about free expression, democratic participation, and issues of basic safety on the contemporary internet.

AI in the Open World: Directions, Challenges, and Futures

Speaker: Eric Horvitz
Date recorded: Apr 27, 2017
Eric Horvitz breaks down societal and technological complications of using AI.

Eric Horvitz – Artificial intelligence (AI) is at an inflection point and is poised to move into the open world and into our lives in numerous ways that will have numerous influences on people and society. While AI promises to provide great value, along with the aspirations come concerns about inadvertent costs, rough edges, and failures. Concerns include failures of automation in the open world, biased data and algorithms, opacity of reasoning, adversarial attacks on AI systems, and runaway AI. Horvitz will discuss short- and longer-term challenges and discuss studies aimed at addressing concerns, including the One Hundred Year Study on AI at Stanford University and the Partnership on AI to Benefit People and Society.

Eric Horvitz is a technical fellow and director at Microsoft Research. His interests span theoretical and practical challenges in AI and he has made contributions in machine learning, perception, decision making, and human-computer interaction. More information and publications are available at http://erichorvitz.com.