Since May 2017, I have been hosting bimonthly dinner salons around the societal impacts of technology. These salons were originally initiated with the artist Sophia Brueckner as a forum to discuss the creation of an ethical code for technology. Sophia’s friendship was a catalyst to deepen my life long interest in ethics and technology into a life mission. The story of how this salon was founded demonstrates the power artists have in this important conversation. The dinners have evolved since that time to incorporate broader perspectives, whether economic, societal, or psychological, that are meant to trigger insight into some of the most challenging problems of emerging technology. From using neural networks to generate new recipes to engineering social sculpture to produce transformative experiences, the salon is home to a unique creative thought process formed by balancing guest diversity.
Guests have included:
Director for Stanford’s Center for Advanced Study in Behavioral Sciences Margaret Levi, MacArthur fellow and human rights activist Xiao Qiang, Director of the Knowlton School of Architecture Ann M. Pendleton-Jullian, Director of the Vienna Contemporary Art fair Christina Steinbrecher-Pfandt, Artist and Rap Research Lab founder Tahir Hemphill, Forensic Psychiatrist Martin Epson, Autodesk’s Head of Global Diversity and Inclusion Daniel Guillory, OpenAustria Director Martin Rauchbauer, Pharmacyclics Head of Clinical Science Danelle James, roboticist Rob Ball, Chief Technology Officer at Colchis Capital Jon Cooper, economist and creator of speculative design for policy studio San Diego 2049 with UCSD and Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination John Ahlquist, Hyphen-Labs co-founder Carmen Aguilar y Wedge, GoSol founder Eerik Wissenz and artist Neil Mendoza.
Below are themes for our first four salons.
The Ethics and Technology Salon
The ethics of emerging technology is both a complex and complicated problem. Harnessing a curated collective consciousness of a group of intentionally diverse, professional experiences brings a different approach to research and policy discussions.
For the past year, the dinner salon for ethics and technology has hosted an eclectic mix of people. The guest list is engineered to balance the range of expertise and personalities and drive productive conversation. The guest list is kept intimate enough to have a singular conversation.
The purpose of these dinner salons is to promote deeper dialogue on human values and technological advances. The guest list is balanced between technologists, artists, academics, philosophers, psychologists, and experts from relevant fields to create rich dialogue about the evening’s topic. To hold a single conversation, dinner is limited to 12 guests. There are no outside business interests and our conversation is not recorded. The goal is to increase our individual and collective knowledge through discourse on emerging tech + ethics. Nexus.
DINNERS 1 & 2
WITH SOPHIA BRUECKNER
Code of Ethics
It is an amazing time to be alive: technology can be harnessed to solve any problem- it seems limitless. It is hard to pause to question whose problems, benefit to whom, what is the cost, how are we making these decisions. What solutions are there if human progress comes at the expense of human values? Where do we turn to when there is a conflict in conscience; are we alone in these decisions? Is there accountability in our algorithms? Should there be? Doctors take a Hippocratic oath. Let’s discuss our code.
DINNER 3 & 4
WITH JEANNINE SHINODA
Agents vs Agency: Quantitative Ethics
There are many pockets in academia that are discussing problems in machine learning around the concepts of fairness, accountability, and transparency. Algorithmic decision making is becoming ubiquitous in all areas of our society. What are guidelines we can follow and contributions we can make towards a fairer future? Are we asking too much from our data?
Just last week, Springer Nature announced they have removed hundreds of articles at the request of the Chinese government on topics such as Taiwan, Tibet and human rights. Chinese censorship has been very successful and continues to grow. How is the relationship between China and our businesses influencing human rights globally? What are the ethical repercussions of doing business in China and what should be done to change them?
Other dinners have included topics such as: machine bias, the future of art and artist, AI and creative work, Autonomous Policy, Trust & AI (all women). Our next series of dinners will focus on geopolitics of AI development, mapping the AI ethics ecosystem, and smart cities: mitigating harms.