Learn more about AI and You

By Cecilia Nasmith

The AI track record to date is one to inspire trepidation.

Many municipalities are saving time and labour with on-line voting, but one hears tales of election manipulation. Charming new social-network sites spring up, but troubling reports emerge of old trusted ones that profiteer from our personal data. The convenience of on-line transactions carries with it the dread of security lapses that have compromised customers' privacy.

The Northumberland Learning Connection has taken note of this timely concern in formulating its fall 2019 season. AI + U is offering a dozen expert-led sessions in October and November to explore the ethical and political questions that face Canadians in a country that is a world leader in the development of artificial intelligence, along with a special wind-up session on Dec. 6.

Oct. 24 – The Big Picture, with CBC broadcaster Ira Basen. Scientists began talking about artificial intelligence more than half a century ago. Though it promises to transform our lives into safer and more fulfilling ones over the next decade, Stephen Hawking has said that AI potentially represents the end of the human race.

Oct. 25 – Working For The Man. Basen returns for a look at the threat to millions of workers that automation poses, along with the profound social and economic ramifications.

Oct. 31 – Gaming and AI with Ubisoft game designer Melissa MacCoubrey (sponsored by James W. Gordon Insurance Brokers Ltd.). MacCoubrey hearkens back to that time when chess champion Gary Kasparov was beaten by Deep Blue and AlphaGo mastered the ancient abstract Chinese game of Go. What lies ahead for games and gamers?

Nov. 1 – Making Literature with Computers with Adam Hammond of the University of Toronto. Along with the more sinister fears of AI's potential, there is its role in assisting the creative process. Hammond will explain an algorithm that helped write the perfect science-fiction story and a sonnet generator that seeks to rival Shakespeare.

Nov. 7 – Which Way To Turn? Driverless Vehicles with executive director Barrie Kirk of Canadian Autonomous Vehicles Centre of Excellence (sponsored by Vandermeer Toyota). Would a fully occupied driverless bus plunge over a cliff rather than hit children playing in the road? Can algorithms make ethical decisions? Will AI make our roads safer by eliminating human errors? Kirk ponders the implications,

Nov. 8 – Smart Cities – Smart Planning? with Waterfront Toronto Vice-president of Innovation, Sustainability and Prosperity Kristina Verner. In a time of pervasive surveillance culture, do people control urban technology and the tech giants who own it, or is it the other way around. Verner discusses the goals and challenges in creating smart cities.

Nov. 14 – High-risk Experiments: AI, Migration and Human Rights with Petra Molnar of the University of Toronto. World governments are beginning to turn to AI and new technologies to police their borders and manage migration. Molnar will discuss the human-rights implications of these experiments.

Nov. 15 – The Discriminating Algorithm. Molnar returns to discuss the use of AI in predictive policing, criminal justice and social services, and ponders whether, in programming these algorithms, people are teaching computers to make judgments based on race, religion and gender.

Nov. 21 – Is Big Data Changing Democracy with Wesley Wark of the University of Ottawa. Do the forces behind big data ow have the largest vote in our democracy? Wark discusses the issue in light of such events as the 2016 American election, the Brexit referendum and our own Federal election.

Nov. 22 – Rebooting Regulation (sponsored by the Cobourg Police Service). Wark returns to discuss privacy and the protection of our personal data. How much of the responsibility is ours? Can we trust tech giants to self-regulate or must government make the rules?

Nov. 28 – AI and Health Care is Really IA – Intelligence Augmented with Singularity University Future Strategist SE Health Zayna Khayat. AI has the potential to make things go faster, better, cheaper and smarter in health care, and Khayat discusses the risks and opportunities.

Nov 29 – What Do Patients Need To Know? With Melissa McCradden of Sick Kids Hospital and Vector Institute for AI (sponsored by Bridgehouse Canada). This is a look at the ethical implications of the growing role AL plays in clinical care in hospital and other health-care settings. McCradden will discuss what's going on in Canadian hospitals, and what patients should know about navigating this new technology.

On Dec. 6, facilitators from CIFAR (Canada's Global Science think tank) will be led by Brent Barron for a session called AI 101 – an introduction and case study in public policy surrounding health care, housing and law with break-out groups to tackle AI applications to the problem. Only 30 tickets are available for this special event.

Thursday sessions take place in Cobourg at the Columbus Community Centre (232 Spencer St. E.) at 7:30 p.m. Friday sessions take place in Port Hope at the Knights of Columbus Hall (1 Elias St., behind the Capitol Theatre) at 10 a.m. (with the exception of the Nov. 15 program, which begins at 9:30 a.m.). The Dec. 6 session takes place at Cobourg's Venture 13 at 739 D'Arcy St. at 10 a.m.

Tickets per session are $20 plus $1 fee, available on the website, and all dates must be selected at the time of purchase.

An early-bird discount is good until Oct. 1, and you get a 5% discount when you buy five or more tickets at a time (not including the Dec. 6 workshop) – enter code 5ormorediscount at checkout. There is also a code 10ormorediscount you can claim for a 10% discount if you purchase 10 or more tickets at a time (also not including the Dec. 6 event),

You can print the tickets, or use your smart phone to check in at events.

Organizers remind everyone you can also make a tax-deductible donation to NLC at the time of your ticket purchase to ensure the continuation of timely and informative programs such as this one.