“The AI arms race is changing everything,” an article published in TIME said earlier this year. In May, The Washington Post reported, “AI is changing jobs across industries. Here’s what to expect.” And Yahoo! Finance asserted in June, “The first half of this year has been all about AI.” 

These headlines illustrate the public’s newfound focus on artificial intelligence’s presence and power in their lives. Meeting this moment, three University of California and UC Berkeley institutions will host a fall speaker series to inform and engage researchers, students and others in discussions about AI and the opportunities and risks related to it.

"Our distinguished lecture series offers expert insights on the implications of AI as well as practical applications that have a positive impact on society," said Costas Spanos, director of the Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society and the Banatao Institute (CITRIS). “It aims to inspire critical thinking and spark dialogue with the broader community.”

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Berkeley’s College of Computing, Data Science, and Society, the Berkeley Artificial Intelligence Research Lab (BAIR) and UC’s CITRIS are sponsoring the series. This builds on the AI events held at Berkeley this spring and the campus’ track record as a leader in this space.

The four lectures will occur in September and October at Berkeley. Speakers include AI experts from Microsoft, the Distributed Artificial Intelligence Research Institute and Berkeley. They will share how science in fields from psychology to robotics can inform our understanding of AI and propose re-thinking how the public participates in this technology and research.

“As artificial intelligence increasingly permeates our lives, we need to amplify credible experts and engage with the public on the societal impacts of AI,” said Jennifer Chayes, dean of UC Berkeley’s College of Computing, Data Science, and Society. “Berkeley’s excellence in AI research and related disciplines makes it the best institution to innovate, incubate and inform perspectives on how this technology is developed and applied.”

The upcoming in-person and livestreamed lectures will include:

  • September 13: Jaron Lanier, prime unifying scientist for Microsoft, will speak about reconceiving economic and other principles that underpin AI-fueled models. (Register.)
  • September 27: UC Berkeley Psychology Professor Alison Gopnik will present on how studying young children’s learning can inform our understanding of AI. (Register.)
  • October 4: Berkeley Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences Anca Dragan will discuss getting AI to do what humans want. (Register.)
  • October 25: Timnit Gebru, founder and executive director of the Distributed AI Research Institute (DAIR), will talk about DAIR’s research approach and dispersing the power of technology. (Register.)