Neuroscience, AI, and Society

A seminar series featuring scientists, thinkers, and writers on the intersections of neuroscience, artificial intelligence and society.

Upcoming Seminars

Imagining the Future

Jared Moore and Anton Arkiphov

February 29, 2024 7:00 pm, Foege S-060

Reception to follow in the Vista Cafe

Science fiction allows us to inhabit potential futures. How might these futures evolve and what lessons can we take from them about the present, particularly the rapid developments in artificial intelligence? This evening will host a conversation between AI researcher Jared Moore and neuroscientist Anton Arkhipov, who have recently made their own explorations into fiction

Past Seminars

The Neuroscience of You: How Understanding Your Neural Lens Can Help You Connect with Others

Chantel Prat, UW Psychology

December 7 2022, 7:00 pm, HSB K069 (Health Sciences)


Reception to follow in the Rotunda

We are living through a social paradox in which an expanded appreciation for the importance of diversity co-exists with tense divisions between people who believe different things. How might knowing the ways each unique brain understands the world help us to connect with others who work differently? In this lecture, I’ll share some examples from my new book, The Neuroscience of You, which was written to help readers understand how their biology and experiences shape the lens through which they perceive things, including others.

The talk will also be streamed at

Living with an aging mind:
Personal, philosophical and practical considerations

A conversation with Noga Arikha and Barak Gaster

October 14 2022, 7:00 pm, Foege Auditorium (Genome Sciences Building)

Register at

Reception to follow in Vista Cafe

Dementia affects a significant fraction of the aging population. We host a conversation between physician Barak Gaster and philosopher of science Noga Arikha to discuss the experience of living with dementia and practical steps one can take to prepare for this contingency.

Noga Arikha is a philosopher and historian of ideas. She is an associate fellow of the Warburg Institute (London), an honorary fellow of the Center for the Politics of Feelings, and a research associate at the Institut Jean Nicod of the Ecole Normale Supérieure (Paris). Her first book was Passions and Tempers: A History of the Humours (Ecco/HarperCollins, 2007). Her most recent book, The Ceiling Outside: The Science and Experience of the Disrupted Mind , charts stories of personal experiences of mental illness, including her mother’s decline into Alzheimers’, and was published this past spring by Basic Books (UK & US).
Barak Gaster is a Professor of Medicine and primary care physician with expertise in the evaluation and management of dementia. After graduating from the University of Chicago with a degree in the history and philosophy of science, he attended medical school at UCSF. He currently directs the CDC-funded Cognition in Primary Care Program at the University of Washington, is a member of the CDC Healthy Brain Initiative Leadership, and is an invited member of the Hastings Center Workgroup on Ethics of Dementia. He co-developed the Dementia Directive which has been downloaded more than 150,000 times and been featured in the New York Times and on NPR.

NeuroRights: Human Rights Guidelines for Neurotechnology

public lecture by Rafael Yuste 

December 2, 7:00 pm, Foege Auditorium (Genome Sciences Building)

Reception to follow in Vista Cafe

The development of Neurotechnology, defined as novel methods to both record and alter brain activity, is poised to have a transformative effect in science, medicine and society. At the same time, neurotechnology, particularly when combined with AI, could have severe ethical and societal consequences. In this talk Yuste will review the proposal made by the Morningside Group in 2017 to introduce new human rights into the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and provide ethical guidelines for neurotechnology development and its deployment. These “NeuroRights” protect mental privacy, personal identity and personal agency, and guarantee fair access to cognitive augmentation and protection from algorithmic biases. To help implement these rights, we propose to follow the medical model, introducing a “Technocratic Oath” as a deontology in the neurotech and data industry and using existing societal mechanisms similar to those already implemented in the medical industry to regulate future development of Neurotech and AI. Finally, I will discuss current advocacy efforts for NeuroRights in different countries, including Chile’s recent NeuroRights constitutional amendment and bill of law, Spain’s Charter of Digital Rights, as well as the United Nations.

Ethics in the age of AI

public lecture by Blaise Agüera y Arcas, VP and Research Fellow, Google Research

June 10, 7:00 pm

We are in an era of heavy AI marketing alongside intense AI anxiety. What is AI, what is its true status now, and what are the implications of AI for the future? Recent dramatic advances in artificial neural networks have brought machines capable of superhuman visual recognition, game playing, and realistic dialogue. From here, we can make some informed guesses as to where the next few years might take us. This is a basis to think about a hybrid future of social relationships between intelligences of many kinds and scales— from tiny smart devices, to people, to corporations, state actors, entire economies and ecologies, and ultimately the planet as a whole.

Register here

In Silico film screening

with discussion with director Noah Hutton

May 5, 7:00 pm

A young filmmaker sets out to document a brilliant neuroscientist who has become frustrated with his field’s status quo. With time elapsing and millions of dollars on the line, In Silico explores an audacious 10-year quest to simulate the entire human brain on supercomputers. Along the way, it reveals the profound beauty of tiny mistakes and bold predictions — a controversial space where scientific process meets ego, and where the lines between objectivity and ambition blur.

Register here

Ted Chiang


“Reasoning about the Body”

October 20, 7:00 pm

Register here

Peter Sterling

Professor of Neuroscience, University of Pennsylvania

“What is health?”

February 19, 2020

Christof Koch

President and Chief Scientist, Allen Institute for Brain Science 

“Proust Among the Machines”

January 22, 7:00pm

Lawrence Weschler

Author and Humanist

A talk on his recent book, “And How Are You, Dr. Sacks?” a biographical memoir on his friendship with Dr. Oliver Sacks

October 9, 2019

Patricia Churchland

Professor Emerita, University of California San Diego

“The Brains Behind Morality”

May 30, 2019

Genevieve Bell

Director of the Autonomy, Agency, and Assurance Institute at Australian National University

“Decolonising Artificial Intelligence: the arc of the new cybernetics”

April 15, 2019