AUTONOMY AND TECHNOLOGY: A SEMESTER-LONG POLYMATHIC INQUIRY - Spring 2020

Join us this semester for an extended discussion and hands-on exploration of autonomy in humans, systems, and machines. Throughout the semester, the Harman Academy will hold several Polymathic Pizzas, each covering a critical aspect of our present and future relationship with particular autonomous technologies and their implications for our own agency, including facial recognition, pose detection, deepfake technology, and new forms of artificial intelligence. Each Polymathic Pizza will also be paired with a hands-on workshop in which participants will have the opportunity to work with or otherwise explore the technology under discussion.

Harman will also hold a one-day event on February 22, “Technology, Agency, and Values: A Polymathic Exploration of Autonomy in Humans and Machines,” bringing together faculty from computer science, engineering, robotics, the humanities, and the social sciences to explore the applications, ethics, and history of these systems.  

THE DATA OF HUMAN MOTION

Dance, VR, and Photogrammetry Workshop

Ralston Louie, Interactive Media and Games, USC
David Guevara, Interactive Media and Games, USC

Using Depthkit, software for volumetric video capture, participants will learn about new
techniques for capturing 3D footage of human motion.

Tuesday. January 21, 3:00 - 4:30pm
Ahmanson Lab, Leavey Library, LVL 301
RSVP

Techno-logy Dance: Race, Gender, and Pose Detection Technology

Margo Apostolos, USC Kaufman School of Dance
Sabela Grimes, USC Kaufman School of Dance

Professors Margo Apostolos and Sabela Grimes will discuss the opportunities and challenges of pose detection technology and its ability to quantify the language of the human body, including languages of identity, gender, age, and emotion.

Wednesday. January 22, 5:00 - 6:30pm
Doheny Library, DML 241
RSVP


THE SURVEILLANCE CRISIS

Data Surveillance and Digital Rights Workshop

Samir Ghosh, Ahmanson Lab

Participants will learn about their digital rights and how they can take agency and
ownership over their own online data.

Tuesday. February 18, 3:00 - 4:30pm
Ahmanson Lab, Leavey Library, LVL 301
RSVP

Here’s Looking at You: Interrogating Facial Recognition Tech

Simone A. Browne, African and African Diaspora Studies, University of Texas, Austin
Kelly Gates, Communication and Science Studies, UCSD

Professors Simone A. Brown and Kelly Gates, two of the foremost scholars on facial
recognition, will discuss the historical racial lineages, contemporary realities, and future
developments of one of the most concerning biometric sciences.

Friday. February 21, 4:00 - 5:30pm
Doheny Library, DML 241
RSVP


THE ERA OF DEEPFAKES

Detecting and Combating Deepfakes Workshop

Curtis Fletcher, Ahmanson Lab
Samir Ghosh, Ahmanson Lab

Participants will learn best practices and technological methods
for detecting AI-generated media online.

Tuesday. March 24, 3:00 - 4:30pm
Ahmanson Lab, Leavey Library, LVL 301
RSVP

Media Forensics: What the Deepfake?

Wael Abd-Almageed, Computer Science, USC
Hao Li, Computer Science, USC

Professors Wael Abd-Almageed and Hao Li will discuss the artistic benefits of deepfake
technology as well as the great social harm that can be unleashed by its deployment within
an increasingly polarized and fragmented social media ecosystem.

Wednesday. March 25, 5:00 - 6:30pm
Doheny Library, DML 241
RSVP


THE NEW AI

Applied Neural Networks Workshop

Samir Ghosh, Ahmanson Lab

Participants will explore simple neural networks and learn about the “deep learning”
revolution in AI that these computing systems have brought about.

Tuesday. April 21, 3:00 - 4:30pm
Ahmanson Lab, Leavey Library, LVL 301
RSVP

AI on the Go: Ancient Games and Future Gamers

Richard Lemarchand, Cinematic Arts, USC
Kadri Vihvelin, Philosophy, USC

Professors Richard Lemarchand and Kadri Vihvelin will discuss what makes us authentically human and the ways in which a new generation of artificial intelligence may be gaining ground.

Wednesday. April 22, 5:00 - 6:30pm
Doheny Library, DML 241
RSVP


TECHNOLOGY, AGENCY, AND VALUES: A POLYMATHIC EXPLORATION OF AUTONOMY IN HUMANS AND MACHINES

Saturday, February 22 | 9:30am - 3:00pm
Doheny Library, DML 241
RSVP

While autonomy is a feature of much organic life, it is perhaps the defining feature of human existence. It is also, however, a distinguishing facet of much recent technology; a new cohort of artificially intelligent machines, systems, and agents that operate increasingly without human intervention. The most conspicuous examples include driverless automobiles, autonomous weapons, social media bots, assistive robots, and devices comprising the Internet of Things. But all algorithmically-automated systems with which we now engage are self-governing to a degree. In what ways might the increased autonomy of these systems affect our own agency? How might our use of such systems impact how we function as humans? Or how we see ourselves as human? How might they alter our dynamics with each other?
 
Join us for a day of discussion about our past, present, and future relationship with autonomous technologies. In a series of panels, faculty from computer science, engineering, robotics, the humanities, and the social sciences will reflect on the applications, ethics, and history of these systems.

PANEL I: Encoded Stories: Autonomous Tech and the Popular Imagination
Jennifer Cool, Anthropology, USC
Tok Thompson, Anthropology and Communication, USC
Discussant: Curtis Fletcher, Sidney Harman Academy, USC Libraries

PANEL II: Modeling Humanity: Robotics and Multi-agent Technologies
Stefanos Nikolaidis, Director of the Interactive and Collaborative Autonomous Robotic Systems Lab, Viterbi, USC
Jonathan Gratch, Director for Virtual Humans Research, USC Institute for Creative Technologies
Discussant: Sharon Lloyd, Philosophy, USC

PANEL III: Whose Autonomy? Data, Privacy, and Programmed Surveillance
Kelly Gates, Communication and Science Studies, UCSD
Simone A. Browne, African and African Diaspora Studies,
University of Texas, Austin
Discussant: Tara McPherson, Cinematic Arts, USC