Upcoming Event

Shannon Vallor at Harvard Book Store

presenting

The AI Mirror:
How to Reclaim Our Humanity
in an Age of Machine Thinking 

in conversation with SASHA CONSTANZA-CHOCK

Date

Jul
26
Friday
July 26, 2024
7:00 PM ET

Location

Harvard Book Store
1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138

Tickets

This event is free; no tickets are required.

Harvard Book Store welcomes SHANNON VALLOR—Baillie Gifford Professor in the Ethics of Data and Artificial Intelligence at the University of Edinburgh and author of Technology and the Virtues—for a discussion of her new book The AI Mirror: How to Reclaim Our Humanity in an Age of Machine Thinking. She will be joined in conversation by SASHA CONSTANZA-CHOCK—Head of Research & Sensemaking at OneProject.org and author of Design Justice.

About The AI Mirror

For many, AI technology inspires hope for the future-the promise of shared human flourishing and collective liberation from drudgery that defines the "good life," but always seems to elude our species. Yet today's AI technology is forged from human-generated data into immensely powerful but flawed mirrors that endlessly reflect the same errors, biases and failures of wisdom we are striving to escape. To open new futures for ourselves with these tools is as misguided as gazing into a mirror while trying to climb an uncharted mountain. At this crucial juncture for humanity and our planet, we need something new from AI, and more importantly, from ourselves. We need to find new hope-not to surrender our greatest moral and intellectual ambitions to machines that have none, but to renew those ambitions, collectively, for ourselves. Shannon Vallor makes a wide-ranging, prophetic, and philosophical case for what AI could be, and what we can be with it. She calls us to reclaim our human potential for moral and intellectual growth, rather than losing sight of our shared humanity as we gaze dully into our AI mirrors.

For many, technology offers hope for the future—that promise of shared human flourishing and liberation that always seems to elude our species. Artificial intelligence (AI) technologies spark this hope in a particular way. They promise a future in which human limits and frailties are finally overcome—not by us, but by our machines.

Yet rather than open new futures, today's powerful AI technologies reproduce the past. Forged from oceans of our data into immensely powerful but flawed mirrors, they reflect the same errors, biases, and failures of wisdom that we strive to escape. Our new digital mirrors point backward. They show only where the data say that we have already been, never where we might venture together for the first time.

To meet today's grave challenges to our species and our planet, we will need something new from AI, and from ourselves.

Shannon Vallor makes a wide-ranging, prophetic, and philosophical case for what AI could be: a way to reclaim our human potential for moral and intellectual growth, rather than lose ourselves in mirrors of the past. Rejecting prophecies of doom, she encourages us to pursue technology that helps us recover our sense of the possible, and with it the confidence and courage to repair a broken world. Vallor calls us to rethink what AI is and can be, and what we want to be with it.

Praise for The AI Mirror

"Vallor knocks it out of the park with her sharp observations, apt metaphor, and surprisingly powerful call to action. Written with wit and charm, this book is a must-read for anyone interested in AI and our collective future." —Kate Darling, MIT research scientist and author of The New Breed

"The AI Mirror is the nuanced, introspective signal we need to cut through all the noise about artificial intelligence. Shannon Vallor is one of the most important voices we have to help us parse fantasy from reality when it comes to understanding the true threat that AI poses to humans: making us forget what it means to be human at all. This is one of the most important and poetic books we can read right now to find our way through the AI-hype headlines." —Safiya Umoja Noble, author of Algorithms of Oppression

"Shannon Vallor has written the book I've been waiting for. The AI Mirror delivers a powerful reframing of the future of humanity and artificial intelligence. Vallor offers a brilliant and original perspective on how AI can reflect our noblest values and aspirations, as well as our worst fears and flaws. She challenges us to rethink our relationship with AI, not as a threatening technology or a neutral set of new tools, but as a mirror that reveals who we are and aspire to be. The AI Mirror is a captivating and insightful book that will inspire readers to think differently about the dangers and opportunities of AI. This is a must-read for anyone who cares about what happens to humanity as we push our long-standing relationship to technologies to new places." —Mary L. Gray, co-author of Ghost Work: How to Stop Silicon Valley from Building a New Global Underclass

Masking Policy

Masks are encouraged but not required for this event.

Sasha Costanza-Chock
Sasha Costanza-Chock

Sasha Costanza-Chock

Sasha Costanza-Chock (she/they/ella/elle) is a researcher and designer who works to support community-led processes that build shared power, dismantle the matrix of domination, and advance ecological survival. They are a nonbinary trans* femme. Sasha is known for their work on networked social movements, transformative media organizing, and design justice. Sasha is presently the Head of Research & Sensemaking at OneProject.org and Associate Professor at Northeastern University’s College of Arts, Media, & Design. Sasha is also a Faculty Associate with the Berkman-Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University and a member of the Steering Committee of the Design Justice Network (designjustice.org). They are the author of two books and numerous journal articles, book chapters, and other research publications. Sasha’s latest book, Design Justice: Community-Led Practices to Build the Worlds We Need, was published by the MIT Press in 2020.

Shannon Vallor
Shannon Vallor

Shannon Vallor

Shannon Vallor is the Baillie Gifford Professor in the Ethics of Data and Artificial Intelligence in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Edinburgh, where she directs the Centre for Technomoral Futures in the Edinburgh Futures Institute. She is a Fellow of the Alan Turing Institute and former AI Ethicist at Google. Her work explores how new technologies reshape human moral and intellectual character and includes advising government and industry on the ethical design and use of AI. She is the author of Technology and the Virtues: A Philosophical Guide to a Future Worth Wanting (Oxford, 2016).

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1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138

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