When Technology Transforms Society: Considering the Societal and Ethical Impacts of Quantum Computing and AI

October 31 – November 1, 2019

This event has passed. Read the summary in “Shaping the Technology Transforming our Society

Quantum computing and artificial intelligence are currently making significant technical progress, with commensurate interest from the public, media outlets, funding agencies, and corporate partners. Stakeholders frequently point to the potential of these technologies to “transform society,” but what does this mean, practically? Should researchers and stakeholders anticipate the social, political, and ethical consequences of our work and steer our research programs accordingly? Can we draw from scholarship in the social sciences and the humanities to inform an understanding of the distributional impacts of our programs? This workshop explored these questions and developed collaborations across disciplines, institutions, and key stakeholders who may be able to help responsibly steer the evolution of these revolutionary technologies in ethical and socially beneficial ways.


Program Agenda

Thursday, October 31

8:00 AM Registration & Breakfast  
8:30 AM Program Startup Brian Nord, Kate Timmerman,
Daniel Bowring

Power Asymmetries: Justice and Work

8:45 AM Framing Talks James Evans
Director, Knowledge Lab
Professor, Sociology
University of Chicago
9:15 AM   Sheila Jasanoff, Pforzheimer
Professor of Science and
Technology Studies,
Harvard University
9:45 AM Coffee Break  
10:00 AM   Anamita Guha, Global Lead of
Product Management, IBM Q
10:30 AM Breakout Session Prep  
10:45 AM Breakout Session 1A  
11:30 AM Coffee Break  
11:45 AM Breakout Session 1B (focus on deliverables)
12:30 PM Lunch/Plenary Prep  
1:30 PM Plenary Group Reports All groups; 5 minutes per
2:30 PM Day 1 close  


Friday, November 1

8:00 AM Registration & Breakfast  
8:30 AM Program Startup  

The Evolutionary of Privacy

9:00 AM Framing Talks Keith Bradley, Director of
National Security Programs,
Argonne National Laboratory
9:30 AM   Jevin West, Associate
Professor, Information School,
University of Washington
10:00 AM Breakout Session 2A  
10:45 AM Coffee Break  
11:00 AM Breakout Session 2B (Focus on deliverables)
11:45 AM Break, plenary prep  
12:00 PM Working Lunch Breakout groups report back
1:00 PM Perspective Talk Rachel Bronson, President
and CEO of the Bulletin of the
Atomic Scientist
2:00 PM Establish post-workshop
effort and working groups
3:00 PM Closeout  



University of Chicago
Eckhardt Research Center (ERC)—Room 161
5640 South Ellis Ave, Chicago, IL 60637


Session Topics

The Evolution of Privacy: What happens when encryption, secrecy, and privacy are heavily disrupted?

  1. When have modes of secrecy and bastions of privacy been dramatically disrupted in the past?
  2. How does this kind of disruption impact geopolitics?
  3. What roles will QIS and AI play in thwarting or sustaining modes of privacy?
  4. How does this affect an individual’s privacy within a nation-state, and how does this channel into political movements and activist efforts?

Justice and Power Asymmetries: How are technological advances used to subjugate, oppress, or control groups of people?

  1. What cultural disruptions in the past have been caused by significant changes in technology and in computing technology?
  2. What are the common themes of these changes in terms of power asymmetries, an individual’s quality of life, and the concentration of wealth, knowledge, power?
  3. What has been, is, or will likely be the balance between the democratization of power/privilege and the accumulation of power/privilege in the context of technological disruption?
  4. How does a technocratic approach to governance drive policy-making?
  5. What are local community themes for technological colonialism — e.g., gentrification and loss of affordable housing; redlining and education?


Organizing Committee

  • Daniel Bowring
  • Chihway Chang
  • Eamon Duede
  • Hoyt Long
  • Diana Morgan
  • Brian Nord
  • Jason St. John
  • Kate Timmerman


With support from the Kavli Foundation

In partnership with the Center for Data and Computing at the University of Chicago