Co-Opting AI: Work

04/23 Tuesday | 6pm

NYU’s Institute for Public Knowledge invites you to a screening and discussion event in our series on “Co-Opting AI.” This event will feature a screening of the PBS documentary Cyberwork and the American Dream, followed by a discussion with Elizabeth Cobbs, James Shelley, Eduardo Porter, Madeleine Claire Elish, and Mona Sloane. The documentary looks at the impact of robotics and artificial intelligence on the future of work. Since the Industrial Revolution, new technology has increased wealth, freedom and life expectancy. But it has also destroyed outdated businesses and automated jobs. How can the U.S. best prepare for the challenges of this new technological disruption? The panel discussion will put the film producers into conversation with experts in AI and economics to critically and productively reflect on the themes presented in the film. It will consider the social contexts of AI and work as well as discuss the socio-political histories of automation and the wider economic contexts of artificial intelligence.

Elizabeth Cobbs holds the Melbern G. Glasscock Chair in American History at Texas A&M University. She is the author of eight books on U.S. history and a winner of the Allan Nevins Prize. She is a Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution and earned her Ph.D. in American History at Stanford University.

James Shelley is the owner of Shell Studios, LLC, a San Diego based production company that specializes in award winning documentaries and commercial films. His most recent film was American Umpire, which won “Best Documentary” at the 2016 GI Film Festival.

Eduardo Porter is an economics reporter for the business section of The New York Times, where he was the Economic Scene columnist from 2012 to 2018. Mr. Porter began his career in journalism over two decades ago as a financial reporter for Notimex, a Mexican news agency, in Mexico City. He was deployed as a correspondent to Tokyo and London, and in 1996 he moved to São Paulo, Brazil, as editor of América Economía, a business magazine. In 2000, Mr. Porter went to work at The Wall Street Journal in Los Angeles to cover the growing Hispanic population. He joined The New York Times in 2004 to cover economics. From 2007 to 2012 he was a  member of The Times’s editorial board, where he wrote about business, economics, and a mix of other matters.

Madeleine Clare Elish is a cultural anthropologist whose work examines the social impacts of AI and automation on society. She currently leads the Intelligence & Autonomy Initiative at Data & Society. The Intelligence & Autonomy Initiative aims to reframe debates about the rise of AI and reposition the value of human intelligence in the design, deployment, and evaluation of AI-driven systems. Her recent work has investigated how AI technologies affect understandings of values and ethical norms and how professional work lives change in response. She has conducted field work across varied industries and communities, ranging from the Air Force, civilian drone regulation, and commercial aviation to precision agriculture and emergency clinical care. Her research has been published and cited in scholarly journals as well as publications including The New York Times, Slate, Vice, and USA Today. She holds a PhD in Anthropology from Columbia University and an S.M. in Comparative Media Studies from MIT.

Mona Sloane is a sociologist and her work examines the intersection of design and social inequality. Her current research is on AI design and policy in the context of inequality, valuation practice, data epistemology and ethics. At IPK, Mona founded and convenes the ‘Co-Opting AI’ series. Mona completed her PhD at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE scholarship) with a thesis on commercial spatial design practices. She also is a co-founder and former member of the LSE research programme Configuring Light/Staging the Social which explores the socio-technical role of public lighting in cities. Mona has published on design inequalities, interior design and atmospheres, material culture in design practice, social justice and lighting design, social research in/for design, aesthetics, design thinking, the politics of design, practitioner-academic collaboration for societal impact, and AI ethics. She has completed fellowships at UC Berkeley and the University of Cape Town. Follow her on Twitter @mona_sloane.

Image credit: © Philipp N. Hertel

This event is wheelchair accessible. For other accommodations, contact:

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