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Decoding AI: The Science, Policies, Applications, and Ethics of Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence (AI) is rapidly permeating many facets of our lives, raising both hope and concern about possibilities for our future. AI is transforming domains as disparate as science, medicine, commerce, government, law, the military, and the arts, and in doing so, it is forcing us to grapple with practical, political, and philosophical questions about humans and the nature of human interaction. The Harvard Radcliffe Institute Science Symposium will examine AI, its impact, and its ethics by exploring current and potential applications of AI in a range of fields of inquiry, practice, and public policy as well as what AI is (and is not).

Harvard Radcliffe Institute gratefully acknowledges the following funds that are supporting this event:
Ardis Butler James Fund for Science
Melanie Mason and David W. Niemiec Fund for Science
Melanie Mason Niemiec ’71 Current-Use Fund for Science

AI Experts Discuss the Relationship between AI and Its Users at Radcliffe Symposium (Harvard Crimson, 10/25/21)

Event Videos


  • Tomiko Brown-Nagin, dean of Harvard Radcliffe Institute, Daniel P.S. Paul Professor of Constitutional Law at Harvard Law School, professor of history in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, and chair of the Presidential Committee on Harvard and the Legacy of Slavery

Session 1: What Is AI? 

  • Fernanda Viégas, Sally Starling Seaver Professor, Harvard Radcliffe Institute; principal scientist, Google; Gordon McKay Professor of Computer Science, Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences

  • Moderator: Edo Berger, codirector of the science program at Harvard Radcliffe Institute; professor of astronomy, Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences 

Session 2: AI Applications 

  • Alán Aspuru-Guzik, professor of chemistry and computer science, University of Toronto; Canada 150 Research Chair in Theoretical and Quantum Chemistry, Government of Canada; Canada CIFAR AI Chair, Vector Institute; cofounder, Zapata Computing; cofounder, Kebotix 

  • Suchi Saria, John C. Malone Associate Professor, Johns Hopkins Whiting School of Engineering

  • Pindar Van Arman, AI artist

  • Moderator: Tom Simonite, senior writer, WIRED

Session 3: AI and People 

  • Ajay Agrawal, Geoffrey Taber Chair in Entrepreneurship and Innovation and professor of strategic management, Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto

  • Rana el Kaliouby, deputy CEO, Smart Eye; cofounder and former CEO, Affectiva; executive fellow, Harvard Business School

  • Daniela Rus, Andrew (1956) and Erna Viterbi Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and director of the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

  • Moderator: Jonathan L. Zittrain, George Bemis Professor of International Law and vice dean for library and information resources, Harvard Law School; director and faculty chair, Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University; professor of computer science, Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences; and professor, Harvard Kennedy School

Session 4: AI Ethics and Policies 

  • Mark Caine, artificial intelligence and machine learning lead, World Economic Forum

  • Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar, associate justice, Supreme Court of California; Herman Phlager Visiting Professor, Stanford Law School

  • Mutale Nkonde, founding CEO, AI For the People; cofounder, Fawma; MA candidate in American studies, Columbia University

  • Moderator: Francine Berman, research professor and Stuart Rice Honorary Chair, College of Information and Computer Science, University of Massachusetts Amherst

Closing Remarks

  • Edo Berger, codirector of the science program, Harvard Radcliffe Institute; professor of astronomy, Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences

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