The consequences of contemporary technological innovations for the lives and values of future generations are enormous. The wide range of expected – and unexpected – applications require rethinking governance arrangements, legal regimes, economic structures, and social relations. Exploration of such topics is the subject of the 2017-18 CASBS symposium series.
In the first symposium, CASBS presents a panel discussion among three 2017-18 CASBS fellows supported by the Berggruen Institute: technology journalist John Markoff, applied engineer and defense researcher Arati Prabhakar, and philosopher-ethicist and Buddhist monk Tenzin Priyadarshi. They will explore vital issues including the pace of adoption of automation and artificial intelligence (AI); the ethical responsibilities of scientists, engineers, and technology firms; and the implications for jobs and societal disruption.
How we frame and contextualize these and related issues and questions will influence how we as a society address the challenges and opportunities of automation and AI.
John Markoff is a journalist best known for his decades of work as a technology reporter at The New York Times. Markoff was one of a team of reporters who won the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Reporting for a series of 10 articles on the business practices of Apple and other technology companies. He is the author of What the Doormouse Said (2005) and Machines of Loving Grace: The Quest for Common Ground Between Humans and Robots (2015). During his fellowship year at CASBS, Markoff is working on a biography of The Whole Earth Catalog publisher Stewart Brand, as well as focusing on the impact of artificial intelligence and robotics on aging populations in the advanced world.
From 2012-17, Arati Prabhakar led the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the U.S. Defense Department agency whose mission is to anticipate, explore, and achieve breakthrough technologies for national security. She focused DARPA's efforts on fundamentally rethinking complex military systems; developing the next generation of artificial intelligence and data science; and planting new research seeds in social science and biological technologies. Prabhakar first came to DARPA in 1986 as a program manager and was the founding director of its Microelectronics Technology Office. She later served as director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology from 1993-97. During her CASBS year, Prabhakar aims to re-examine the role of technology in society in light of emerging powerful capabilities, and how we make choices about their uses.
The Venerable Tenzin Priyadarshi is an innovative thinker, philosopher, educator and polymath monk. He serves as Director of the Ethics Initiative at the MIT Media Lab and is the Founding President and CEO of The Dalai Lama Center for Ethics and Transformative Values at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which dedicates itself to inquiry, dialogue, and education on the ethical and humane dimensions of life. His honors include a 2013 Distinguished Alumni Award from Harvard University for his visionary contributions to humanity. During his CASBS fellowship year, Priyadarshi will explore the ethical and governance frameworks involving artificial intelligence.