Presented by President Philip Steenkamp
We will explore the complex challenges facing humanity and innovative ideas about how we might solve them. These ideas are even more relevant as we consider living with, and looking beyond, COVID-19. These talks are for students, professionals, alumni and concerned citizens.
These are ideas for everyone, accessible everywhere and free to attend.
References to artificial intelligence (AI) have become a commonplace in tech-related media, where we hear about the ‘rise’ of AI, its purported ubiquity in our lives, and the inevitability of its continued expansion. Whether celebrated as a transformative innovation or decried as a growing threat, the nature of AI as a technological project goes largely unquestioned. In this conversation I’ll offer a different story, focused on the vested interests that sustain the myth of AI, and the enormous gap between AI rhetoric and limits of associated technologies. My specific focus is on projects in the automation of targeting, both in its more literal operations in the context of armed conflict and the broader sense of multiple practices of discriminatory profiling. Central to the analysis is close attention to the elision of images, categories, and things-in-the-world. Fixed and labelled within datasets, images of things and traces of lives stand as proxies suitable for computational analysis. Closer investigations reveal the complex relations that escape these operations, opening spaces in which to resist the political economy of data-driven technologies and uplift other ways of knowing.
Lucy Suchman is Professor Emerita of the Anthropology of Science and Technology at Lancaster University in the UK. Before taking up that post she was a Principal Scientist at Xerox’s Palo Alto Research Center (PARC), where she spent twenty years as a researcher. The author of Human-Machine Reconfigurations (2007), her current research extends a longstanding critical engagement with the fields of artificial intelligence and human-computer interaction to the domain of contemporary militarism. She is concerned with the question of whose bodies are incorporated into military systems, how and with what consequences for social justice and the possibility for a less violent world. In 2010 she received the ACM SIGCHI Lifetime Research Award and in 2014 the Society for Social Studies of Science (4S) Bernal Prize for Contributions to the Field. She was President of the Society for Social Studies of Science from 2015-2017.
Bestselling Canadian novelist Esi Edugyan writes richly imagined and impeccably researched stories that illuminate complicated truths about race and belonging. The first Black woman to win the Scotiabank Giller Prize, Edugyan grew up the child of immigrant Ghanian parents in Calgary, AB. Though it starts as a take on the antebellum novel, Edugyan describes her book Washington Black as having a post-slavery narrative. Washington Black was named one of the best books of the year by The New York Times and was a finalist for the Man Booker Prize and would go on to land the author her second Giller Prize. She lives in Victoria, British Columbia.
On May 6, 2021, Esi Edugyan joined Royal Roads University President Philip Steenkamp to discuss her book, Washington Black, her research and the themes within her work.
Dr. Thomas Homer-Dixon holds a University Research Chair in the Faculty of Environment at the University of Waterloo. Born in Victoria, British Columbia, he received his BA in political science from Carleton University in 1980 and his PhD from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. A widely sought-after speaker, Dr. Homer-Dixon’s books include The Upside of Down: Catastrophe, Creativity, and the Renewal of Civilization, which won Canada’s 2006 National Business Book Award, and The Ingenuity Gap, which won the 2001 Governor General’s Non-fiction Award.
On September 16, renowned speaker, author and professor Dr. Thomas Homer-Dixon led us through the challenging global landscape to the brink of despair – and then shows us how we have the power to save the world over Facebook Live.
Gwynne Dyer has worked as a freelance journalist, columnist, broadcaster and lecturer on international affairs for more than 20 years, but he was originally trained as a historian. Born in Newfoundland, he received degrees from Canadian, American and British universities, finishing with a PhD in Military and Middle Eastern History from the University of London. He served in three navies and held academic appointments at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst and Oxford University before launching his twice-weekly column on international affairs. He is also the recipient of an honourary degree from Royal Roads (2002).
Dr. Bonnie Henry was appointed as Provincial Health Officer for the Province of BC in 2018. As BC’s most senior public health official, Dr. Henry is responsible for monitoring the health of all British Columbians and undertaking measures for disease prevention and control and health protection. Most recently, Dr. Henry has led the province’s response on the COVID-19 pandemic and drug overdose emergency. Dr. Henry’s experience in public health, preventative medicine and global pandemics has extended throughout her career.