Reading Group

Currently, no reading groups are active or scheduled. If you are interested in joining or have suggestions for future readings, please email IETT@seattleu.edu. Please see the below prior readings of the IETT Book Club. 

The Big Nine: How the Tech Titans and Their Thinking Machines Could Warp Humanity

Author: Amy Webb

Below review written by: Noah Lombardini-Parker

This reading group session has ended. Below, please find our reading group's response to this reading.

In The Big Nine: How the Tech Titans and Their Thinking Machines Could Warp Humanity, Amy Webb outlines three distinct futures for the development of artificial intelligence. A technology with immeasurable impact and consequence, AI is currently being driven by nine large companies around the globe. In the US, Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft, and IBM (G-MAFIA); and in China, Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent (BAT). In Webb's first scenario, AI's future is one where it is used amiably, albeit not to its full potential, to manage and structure our day-to-day lives. In the second, AI, similar to the advent of the internet, evolves chaotically, with the West dividing itself into G-MAFIA based camps. In her last and most apocalyptic future, China wins the AI war, using the technology to infiltrate and eradicate America from the Earth.

While Webb's imagination provides a stark warning to the possibilities of AI on its current track, I envision a world using AI to promote less of an "us versus them" mentality. The main question that we must ask ourselves after reading Webb's prophecies - How can the world work together to avoid such outcomes?

 

Automating Inequality: How High Tech Tools Profile, Punish, and Police the Poor

Author: Virginia Eubanks

Below summary written by: Noah Lombardini-Parker

automating inequality small

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Throughout three powerful case studies, political scientist and technologist Virginia Eubanks highlights how automated decision making amplifies the dire conditions of America's poorest populations. Eubanks explains the impact of welfare decision-making technology in Indiana; an automated system to match LA’s homeless to available housing; and an algorithm to target preventative child protection interventions in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania.

 

Tools and Weapons: The Promise and Peril of the Digital Age

Author: Brad Smith, President, Microsoft

Below summary written by: Noah Lombardini-Parker

tools and weapons

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Brad Smith’s Tools and Weapons offers an insider’s look into the ethical implications of transformative technologies in the world today. From facial recognition technologies to the democratization of data, Smith provides a front line account of Microsoft’s challenges in balancing the value created by these technologies and the peril that they present. Core to his argument throughout, Smith asserts, “When your technology changes the world, you bear responsibility to help address the world that you have helped create”. This is a far cry from the “move fast and break things” motto driving most tech companies today and is a worthwhile perspective in moving forward together, ethically in the digital world we share today.