Neuroscience, AI, and Society

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

Upcoming Seminars

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.

RSVP here

Past Seminars

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.

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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.

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Ted Chiang


“Reasoning about the Body”

October 20, 7:00 pm

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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