What Sci-Fi Futures Can (and Can't) Teach Us About AI Policy

Our anxieties about what we can do with AI versus what we should do are reaching a fever pitch. While companies scramble to define what "AI ethics" means for them and citizens see algorithmic decision-making creeping into their daily experience, policymakers are facing tough choices about how to regulate this new computational wild west. Yet public dialogue about the future of AI seems to be stuck in a loop, repeating the same stories about killer robots, job-stealing AIs, and god-like super-machines. Is science fiction to blame for selling us simplistic visions of AI apocalypse? How can we make sure the stories we tell ourselves about intelligent machines will examine real-life challenges like data-based discrimination and privacy invasion, not just far-fetched threats like "Terminator" uprisings? What lessons can we learn about present-day policy conundrums from the rich history of AI in science fiction literature and film?

Future Tense and New America’s Open Technology Institute convened on May 7, 2019 for a discussion on sci-fi and AI with policy and tech experts, futurists, and science fiction authors—including Malka Older (InfomocracyNull States), whose political science fiction novels were just nominated for the prestigious Hugo award for best sci-fi series.


INTRODUCTORY REMARKS, Kevin Bankston & Ed Finn

SOLO TALK: The Sci-Fi Feedback Loop, Kevin Bankston

PANEL: AI in Reality - AI experts will highlight the hottest issues in AI policy and ethics—and talk about how sci-fi has played Into those debates. Featuring Kevin BankstonDirector, New America’s Open Technology Institute; Miranda BogenSenior Policy Analyst, Upturn; Rumman ChowdhuryResponsible Artificial Intelligence Lead, Accenture; Elana ZeidePULSE Fellow in Artificial Intelligence, Law & Policy at UCLA School of Law; and Lindsey SheppardAssociate Fellow of the International Security Program, Center for Strategic & International Studies

SOLO TALK: How Sci-Fi Reflects Our AI Hopes and Fears, Kanta Dihal

Recorded Provocation, Madeline Ashby, futurist and science fiction author

PANEL: AI in Sci-Fi - Science fiction authors and researchers will survey how sci-fi TV, movies, and literature have treated the subject of AI throughout the years. Featuring Kanta DihalPostdoctoral Researcher, Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence; Andrew HudsonAI Policy Futures researcher, Arizona State University’s Center for Science & The Imagination, and science fiction author; Chris NoesselLead Designer for IBM’s Watson Customer Engagement, author, and keeper of scifiinterfaces.com; Lee KonstantinouAssociate Professor of English Literature at University of Maryland & science fiction author; and Damien Williams, Virginia Tech’s Department of Science, Technology, and Society.

SOLO TALK: Untold AI - What AI Stories Should We Be Telling Ourselves?, Chris Noessel

Recorded Provocation, Stephanie Dinkins, transdisciplinary artist and Professor, Stony Brook University

PANEL: Bridging AI Fact and Fiction - A mix of AI and sci-fi experts will discuss how we can better leverage sci-fi as a tool for thinking about the future of AI policy. Featuring Ed FinnDirector, Arizona State University’s Center for Science & The Imagination; Malka OlderAid worker, sociologist, and science fiction author (InfomocracyNull StatesState Tectonics); Ashkan SoltaniIndependent security and privacy researcher, former Chief Technologist of the Federal Trade Commission; Kristin SharpDirector, New America’s Work, Workers & Technology; and Molly Wright Steenson,
Senior Associate Dean of Research in the College of Fine Arts and the K&L Gates Associate Professor of Ethics and Computational Technologies at Carnegie Mellon University

Closing remarks and provocations

May 7, 2019
Run time
New America
Presented by:
Future Tense