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“Tomorrow’s Leviathan: Intelligent Machines in a Political World” • Lecture with Prof. Phil Howard

March 28, 2019 @ 6:30 pm - 7:30 pm

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Registration for this event is now closed. A rush line will be available offering that chance to find a seat in Town Hall. 

When will an Artificial Intelligence run for elected office? How is AI changing our experience of politics and rewriting democracy’s “terms of service?”

Innis College and the Harold Innis Foundation present a public lecture with Professor Phil Howard (BA ’93 INNIS), globally-recognized political expert and director of the Oxford Internet Institute. On the evening of March 28, Prof. Howard will return to Innis College to speak about the role of artificial intelligence in global, democratic decision-making.

Thursday, March 28, 2019 • 6:30 pm

Innis Town Hall, 2 Sussex Ave.

Registration for this free, public lecture is required. REGISTRATION IS NOW CLOSED.


Abstract • When will an Artificial Intelligence run for elected office? This may seem like a strange provocation– just an invitation to futurism and speculation. Yet Artificial Intelligence (AI) systems are rolling out over many domains of economic, cultural and political life. They handle public policy and legal issues that humans find complex, mundane, time-consuming, or easily corrupted. They are purposefully designed to make the best possible decisions from vast quantities of information—we might hope a Prime Minister or President would adjudicate this way. But we need to move past abstract ethical problems, and be aware that we are choosing to apply AI systems to tangible social problems and politically sensitive issues. I argue that AIs are political by design, through the political values of their designers and the political nature of training data. AIs will validate some political ideas, and be pressed into service for political ideologies. In this talk, I show how AI is changing our experience of politics and rewriting democracy’s “terms of service”.

Phil Howard (BA ’93 INNIS) is a professor and writer. He teaches at the University of Oxford, directs the Oxford Internet Institute, and is a statutory Professor at Balliol College. He writes about information politics and international affairs, and he is the author of eight books, including The Managed Citizen, Pax Technica: How the Internet of Things May Set Us Free or Lock Us Up, and most recently Computational Propaganda. He has won multiple “best book” awards, and his research and commentary writing has been featured in the New York Times, Washington Post, and many international media outlets. Foreign Policy magazine named him a “Global Thinker” for 2018 and the National Democratic Institute awarded him their “Democracy Prize” for pioneering the social science of fake news. During his undergraduate tenure at Innis College, Phil was president of the Innis College Student Society and a member of the Harold Innis Foundation Board of Directors.

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March 28, 2019
6:30 pm - 7:30 pm
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Innis Town Hall


Office of Advancement, Innis College
Harold Innis Foundation