Co-Opting AI: Truth

12/01 Tuesday | 5pm

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The quest for “truth” has always been at the core of knowledge, power and the production of science. AI, and the rise of predictive analytics across all aspects of social life, has both amplified and complicated this dynamic. This event will feature Joan Donovan, Javad Shabani, Sharon Traweek and Mona Sloane and use “truth” as a vehicle to create a link between the topics of misinformation and automated recommendation systems, the promises and mechanisms of quantum computing, philosophical approaches and critiques of “truth”, and the politics of knowledge production in the sciences.

Joan Donovan is currently the Research Director of the Harvard Kennedy School’s Shorenstein Center on Media Politics and Public Policy, where I direct the Technology and Social Change Research Project. Her team researches media manipulation, disinformation, and adversarial media movements. She was previously the Research Lead for Data & Society’s Media Manipulation Initiative, which mapped how interest groups, governments, political operatives, corporations, and others use the internet and media to disrupt social institutions. Joan completed my PhD in Sociology and Science Studies at the University of California San Diego, and was a postdoctoral fellow at the UCLA Institute for Society and Genetics, where I studied white supremacists’ use of DNA ancestry tests, social movements, and technology.

Javad Shabani is an Assistant Professor of Physics at New York University and a member of the Center for Quantum Phenomena. He received his Ph.D. from Princeton University and conducted post-doctoral research at Harvard University and University of California, Santa Barbara. His research interests are mainly on developing novel quantum computing hardware using materials innovation with recent research focus on topological superconductivity and developing voltage-controlled superconducting qubits. He is an active member of quantum education and workforce development in New York area. He is recipient of US Army and US Air Force young investigator awards.

Sharon Traweek is an associate professor in the Department of Gender Studies and History at UCLA; she has also been on the faculty of the Anthropology Department at Rice University and the Program in Anthropology & Archeology and to the Program in Science, Technology, & Society at MIT.  She has held visiting faculty positions at the Mt Holyoke Five College Women’s Studies Research Center, the Anthropology Department at the University of California at San Diego, the Program in Values, Technology, Science, and Society at Stanford University, and Sokendai, the Graduate University for Advanced Studies, in Japan.  She received her Ph.D. from the History of Consciousness Program at the University of California at Santa Cruz.  Her first book is Beamtimes and Lifetimes:  The World of High Energy Physicists (Harvard University Press, 1988, paperback 1992); it remains in print and has been translated into Chinese (2003). Her next book, which is on Japanese big science, and a third on crafting cultural studies of science, technology, and medicine will be submitted to publishers this year; she also has published 25 articles in books and journals of anthropology, Asian studies, communications, cultural studies, history, and women’s studies.

Mona Sloane is a sociologist working on inequality in the context of AI design and policy. She frequently publishes and speaks about AI, ethics, equitability and policy in a global context. Mona is a Fellow with NYU’s Institute for Public Knowledge (IPK), where she convenes the ‘Co-Opting AI’ series and co-curates the ‘The Shift’ series. She also is an Adjunct Professor at NYU’s Tandon School of Engineering, an Associate with NYU’s Alliance for Public Interest Technology, and is part of the inaugural cohort of the Future Imagination Collaboratory (FIC) Fellows at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. Mona is also affiliated with The GovLab in New York and with Public Books where she curates the Technology section. Her most recent project is ’Terra Incognita: Mapping NYC’s New Digital Public Spaces in the COVID-19 Outbreak’ which she leads as principal investigator. Mona holds a PhD from the London School of Economics and Political Science and has completed fellowships at the University of California, Berkeley, and at the University of Cape Town. Follow her on Twitter @mona_sloane.

image credit Philipp N. Hertel.

The Co-Opting AI event series is convened by Mona Sloane. They are hosted at IPK and co-sponsored by the 370 Jay Project and the NYU Tandon Department of Technology, Culture, and Society.

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