Kevin LaGrandeur is Professor of English at the New York Institute of Technology (NYIT), and Director of Technical Writing Programs. Dr. LaGrandeur has written many articles and conference presentations on digital culture; Artificial Intelligence and ethics; and literature and science. His recent book on the premodern cultural history of AI is titled Androids and Intelligent Networks in Early Modern Literature and Culture (Routledge, 2012). His more recent conference presentations have been on transhumanism and the posthuman.
Invited talk #1
"Will a Robot Take Your Job?"
This talk reflects on technological unemployment and the potential impact of automation and computerization on its effects on the future of work, addressing questions such as: Is technology causing inequality? Are there occupations that are immune to technological change? What will be the macroeconomic effects of technological unemployment? We will also discuss what we can do to remedy technological unemployment.
Invited talk #2
Game-ification of Art in the Posthuman Era
For some artists, the posthuman era has brought changes to how art is produced, under whose agency, what human art means, and even what being human means—given the blurring of how we define the concept of “human” in a rapidly changing posthuman environment—one in which humans and their technology increasingly merge. My presentation will explore this phenomenon with particular focus on how artists have combined elements of the posthuman with digital gaming, itself arguably a posthuman phenomenon, to make art that at once reflects and comments on the increasing pervasion of our society by emerging technology. Siebren Versteeg’s work is one example of this. His artwork essentially consists of playing a two part game that consists of creating an intelligent agent, a surrogate artist, by coding a painting program that then begins painting; the game continues as the program subsequently paints and he chooses a randomized point to end the production process for the final work of this symbiotic act. Ian Cheng, who actually programs a gaming engine to generate his self evolving video art, has stated that his art is like a “video game that plays itself” (Greenberger, 2016). Other artists whose work is similar in its inclusion of posthuman elements and game-ified processes include Guy Ben-Ary, Hannes Bend, Stelarc, Oron Catts and Ionat Zurr, Brian Cantrell, Rafael Fajardo, and Margaret Dolinsky (many of whom are SLSA members). The irony of the artists’ displacement by the technological agents they use is just one way this sort of art comments on the posthuman nature of its making. My talk will investigate this as well as what else this sort of art says about how the posthuman has affected us.
Invited Talk #3
"Why it is Helpful and Dangerous to Use AI to Fight Covid"
As of April, 2020, there are a surprising number of AI-based innovations for helping resolve COVID. Some very useful ones help diagnose and research solutions for the virus; others, especially those that record and track people who have the virus to aid in quarantines, are perilous to our privacy and could aid authoritarian governing. I will discuss some of these innovations and give recommendations for their safe use.