The MAGIC Speaker Series 2014-2015
Anna Sweet of VALVE is a key strategist and driver of third-party distribution on the popular Steam platform. She is responsible for general business development, focusing on Steam distribution and Steamworks integration, and the latest venture of the company, the Steambox. She joined Valve in 2008, after working at Microsoft Games Studios and MySpace/Fox Interactive. Her work with VALVE has been featured in Forbes, The Escapist, IGN, TechCrunch, ArsTechnica, Kotaku and numerous other tech news sites. VALVE was recently rated as the #1 most-desired company to work for in games and interactive entertainment by the International Game Developer's Association.
Anna is also an RIT alum, and holds her degree in Computer Science from the B. Thomas Golisano College of Computing & Information Sciences. She was part of the very first course offering in 'games programming', prior to the eventual establishment of the degrees in that field. Please join us in welcoming Anna back to campus.
Talk TITLE: Invisibles: The Power of Anonymous Work in an Age of Relentless Self-Promotion
Talk ABSTRACT: In a culture where gaining attention seems to be valued above nearly everything else, what kind of person chooses to work behind the scenes . . . and thrives there? What has been lost amid the noise of self-promotion today is that not everyone can, or should, or even wants to be in the spotlight. This inspiring and illuminating talk shows that recognition isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, and invisibility can be viewed as a mark of honor and a source of a truly rich life.
David Zweig is a writer based in New York. His nonfiction book, Invisibles: The Power of Anonymous Work in an Age of Relentless Self-Promotion (Penguin), was released summer 2014. Invisibles has received media coverage in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The New Republic, The Washington Post, Wired, Fortune, Slate, Salon and many other outlets. He has appeared on CBS, MSNBC, CNBC, and CBC, and numerous public radio programs. Foreign rights for the book have been sold in Asia, Europe, and South America. Zweig's novel, Swimming Inside the Sun, was called a "terrific debut from a talented writer" by Kirkus. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Atlantic, among other publications.
**David's book will be available (for sale) following his talk, and you will have the opportunity to meet David and get your book signed.
Title: Games Should Be More Violent, Not Less
Abstract: A question that always seems to surface in games criticism is: what do video games need to do to "get better?" The answer that's often given, in so many words, is that they need to become less violent. Games should become more civil, or more humane, to achieve a level of artistry and grace people appreciate in music, film, literature. LeJacq believes that this is misguided and that there is a good reason that violence seems intrinsic to many video games. LeJacq will discuss some of the biggest games in recent memory such as The Sims 4, GTA V, Shadow of Mordor, even Mario Kart and Super Smash Bros. to demonstrate his point.
Yannick LeJacq is a writer for Kotaku, Gawker's video game site. His work has also appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Vice, The Atlantic, The Guardian, Salon, and NBCNews.com, among other publications. He graduated from Wesleyan University in 2011, and currently lives in Brooklyn.
TITLE: The Ethics of App Development
ABSTRACT: From wearable technology to self-driving cars, from social and military robotics to mobile gaming and communication apps, traditional ethical visions of human flourishing or the ‘good life’ are increasingly challenged to adapt to a rising tide of transformative technologies associated with software engineering innovation. These innovations challenge cultures, nations, institutions, and individuals to redefine how we understand and foster enduring human values such as privacy, autonomy, justice, trust, civility and compassion. Dr. Vallor will discuss the many areas in which ethical life is being reshaped by software innovations and in particular, app developers, whose products alter human habits, choices and values, affect how we perceive and relate to others and our world, and in general transform the ways in which our brains access and respond to ethically relevant information. Dr. Vallor will pose the question of whether 'ethical innovation' in app development is a contradiction in terms, an idealistic dream, or the defining mark of a thriving software industry.
Shannon Vallor, Ph.D. is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Santa Clara University in Silicon Valley, where she explores the ethical implications of emerging technologies including social media, robotics and digital surveillance. She is the author of a forthcoming book: 21st Century Virtue: Cultivating the Technomoral Self. In collaboration with Princeton computer scientist Arvind Narayanan, she has developed a free online teaching module on software engineering ethics now being used in 28 universities on 5 continents. The module has been featured in Pacific Standard and Slate magazines as well as the Communications of the ACM, the world's largest educational and scientific computing society. She is Vice-President/President-Elect of the international Society for Philosophy and Technology, and a member of the University of Notre Dame’s research group on Emerging Technologies of National Security and Intelligence (ETNSI).
Where Is the Digital Street?
Abstract: The internet is a vital arena of communication, self expression, and interpersonal organizing. When there is a message to convey, words to get out, or people to unify, many will turn to the internet as a theater for that activity. As familiar and widely accepted activist tools—petitions, fundraisers, mass letter-writing, call-in campaigns and others—find equivalent practices in the online space, is there also room for the tactics of disruption and civil disobedience that are equally familiar from the realm of street marches, occupations, and sit-ins? This talk explores the potential of the internet as a zone for disruptive activism and the laws and social forces chilling the development of innovative political activism online.
Bio: Molly Sauter is a doctoral student at McGill University in Montreal in the department of Art History and Communication Studies. She holds a masters degree in Comparative Media Studies from MIT, and is an affiliate researcher at the Center for Civic Media at the MIT Media Lab and the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University. She resides in Montreal, Quebec, and lives on the internet, blogging at oddletters.com and tweeting @oddletters.
The Promise and Perils of Drone Proliferation
The advent and proliferation of unmanned technologies, often referred to as drones, has offered both new opportunities but also new risks. On the one hand, supporters of the technology point to the ways that drones have helped the United States prosecute its counterterrorism mission, killing many suspected terrorists while not risking its own soldiers’ lives. In terms of civilian uses, those benefits come from an array of applications, whether for monitoring crops, aiding in disaster relief, or filming Hollywood movies. On the other hand, detractors question whether armed drones are consistent with international law or have lowered the threshold for conflict, critiques that have ominous implications for a world where the technology has proliferated to other states. In terms of civilian uses, concerns about privacy and safety abound, with still-unanswered questions about the constitutionality of drones equipped with cameras, the increasing numbers of cases of near-misses between drones and commercial aircraft, and the security risks highlighted by the recent case of a civilian drone landing on the White House lawn.
In this talk, Dr. Kreps will present her research related to these issues. As part of the discussion, she will also do a demonstration of the technology by way of illustrating the promise and perils of drones.
Bio: Sarah Kreps is an Associate Professor in the Department of Government, the co-director of the Cornell Law School International Law-International Relations Colloquium, and an affiliate of the Einaudi Center for International Studies’ Foreign Policy Initiative. She is the author of a number of articles on international security, emerging defense technologies, and nuclear proliferation, as well as two books, the first called Coalitions of Convenience: United States Military Interventions after the Cold War (Oxford University Press, 2011) and more recently Drone Warfare (co-authored with John Kaag, published with Polity Press, 2014). She has a B.A. from Harvard, M.Sc. from Oxford, and PhD from Georgetown University. Before going to graduate school, she served as an acquisitions and foreign area officer in the United States Air Force. She is a life member of the Council on Foreign Relations.
Revitalizing the Professions in an Era of Automation
Automation can be designed to complement human work and vocations, or to substitute for the humans now holding those positions. At present, the dominant trend is toward substitution. While often characterized as a dictate of economics, substitutive automation also results from a culture premised on a certain model of the self as a bundle of inputs (data collection), algorithmic processes (data analysis), and outputs (data use). This pattern-recognizing, algorithmic self is no more (nor less) than the resources and services it uses and creates. As "human resources," it is simply raw material to be deployed to its most profitable use.
Audit culture, quantification (e.g., the quantified self), commensuration, and cost-benefit analysis all reflect and reinforce algorithmic selfhood. While anodyne instances of the trend (e.g., the behavioral economics of nudge) appear as little more than incremental extensions of neoliberalism, the accelerating pace of monitoring and manipulation suggests a critical mass of social control ripe for resistance. But this resistance (hopefully embodied in political economy as a program of complementary, human-respecting rather than human-replacing automation) has to be premised on a more robust conception of vocation (and self-interpretation) than presently prevails.
The status of certain forms of work as professions may provide one template for resistance. In medicine, law, education, and information retrieval, professionalism provides a "third logic" beyond market and state to inform the development of humane labor policy and public service. The question now is whether automation will continue to deskill and devalue the leading professionals in those fields, or whether they will resist by reaffirming their own professional norms and extending professional status to other workers in their fields.
Bio: Frank Pasquale is a Professor of Law at the University of Maryland. His research addresses the challenges posed to information law by rapidly changing technology, particularly in the health care, internet, and finance industries. He is a member of the Council for Big Data, Ethics, and Society, and an Affiliate Fellow of Yale Law School’s Information Society Project. He frequently presents on the ethical, legal, and social implications of information technology for attorneys, physicians, and other health professionals. His book The Black Box Society: The Secret Algorithms that Control Money and Information (Harvard University Press, 2015) develops a social theory of reputation, search, and finance.
The MAGIC Speaker Series 2013-2014
Clive Thompson will be presenting on October 28 as a part of the MAGIC Speaker Series. His talk will center on the development and release of his new book, Smarter Than You Think: How Technology is Changing Our Minds for the Better.
Clive Thompson is a longtime contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine and a columnist for Wired. Biography for Clive Thomson
Ethan Zuckerman & Erhardt Graeff
Ethan Zuckerman & Erhardt Graeff will present on November 11. This talk is a part of the MAGIC Speaker Series and is co-sponsored by the Digital Humanities Speaker Series.
Ethan Zuckerman is director of the Center for Civic Media at MIT, and a principal research scientist at the MIT Media Lab. His research focuses on the distribution of attention in mainstream and new media, the use of technology for international development, and the use of new media technologies by activists. His bio is available at his MIT website.
Erhardt Graeff is a researcher and entrepreneur interested in civic technologies and learning. He is a graduate student and researcher at the Center for Civic Media at the MIT Media Lab, a founding trustee at the Awesome Foundation, Co-Founder and Co-Director of BetterGrads, and a founding member of the Web Ecology Project. He is also an RIT alum. More information, including his full bio, is available at his website..
Greg Lastowka will be presenting on December 6, as part of the MAGIC Speaker Series. The following bio is taken from his website at Rutgers University:
Greg Lastowka is a Professor of Law at Rutgers School of Law-Camden and a co-director of the Rutgers Institute for Information Policy & Law. He teaches in the areas of intellectual property (copyrights, trademarks, and patents), Internet law, and property law. He is the author of Virtual Justice (Yale University Press 2010), which is available online as a free PDF download offered under a Creative Commons license.
The full text of many of his writings can be found here. His contact information is available at his faculty web page.
Anil Dash is presenting on February 12 as a part of the MAGIC Speaker Series. The following bio is taken from his website:
Anil Dash is the cofounder and CEO of ThinkUp, a new service that helps people get more meaning out of the time they spend on social networks. Dash is also cofounder of Activate, the consultancy which helps define strategy for the most important companies at the intersection of technology and media. He is recognized as one of the earliest and most influential technologists in social media. Described as a "blogging pioneer" by the New Yorker, he has been publishing his site Dashes.com continuously since 1999, earning recognition as a Webby honoree and acting as a platform for his perspective and activism on technology, policy, pop culture and media. In 2013, Time named his feed one of the best on Twitter. Prior to his current work, Dash has been a columnist for Wired magazine, founded the non-profit Expert Labs with backing from the MacArthur Foundation to encourage online public engagement with lawmakers and the White House, and serves on the board of Stack Exchange and the New York Tech Meetup, where he was the first person elected by the members to serve on the board of the largest organized technology community in the United States. Dash is based in New York City, where he also advises a number of startups and non-profits, and is advised by his wife Alaina Browne and their son Malcolm.
Alice Marwick will be presenting on March 19 as a part of the MAGIC Speaker Series. The following bio is taken from her website at Fordham University:
Alice Marwick is an Assistant Professor at Fordham University and an academic affiliate at the Center on Law and Information Policy (CLIP) at Fordham Law School. Her work investigates online identity and consumer culture through lenses of privacy, surveillance, consumption, and celebrity. Her first book, “Status Update: Celebrity and Attention in Web 2.0” (Yale University Press, 2013) is based on a multi-year ethnography of the San Francisco tech industry. Marwick’s current projects involve a study of sexism and misogynistic speech online conducted with CLIP; a long-term ethnographic research project on youth social media use in collaboration with Dr. Danah Boyd; and a tripartite project on conspicuous consumption involving fashion blogging, Pinterest, and Tumblr. Marwick was previously a postdoctoral researcher in the Social Media Collective at Microsoft Research New England. She is a frequent presenter at academic and industry conferences, regularly speaks to the press about various aspects of social media, and has written for The New York Times, The Daily Beast and The Guardian in addition to academic publications. Alice has a PhD from the Department of Media, Culture and Communication at New York University, a MA from the University of Washington and a BA from Wellesley College.
Tracy Fullerton will be speaking on April 10th as a part of the MAGIC Speaker Series. This talk is co-sponsored by the Digital Humanities Speaker Series. Her lecture will be held at 8pm in Carlson auditorium. The following bio is taken from her website at tracyfullerton.com. (A more complete biography is available at her website.)
Tracy Fullerton, M.F.A., is a game designer, educator and writer with fifteen years of professional experience. She is currently an Associate Professor in the Interactive Media Division of the USC School of Cinematic Arts and Director of the USC Game Innovation Lab. In December 2008, she was installed as the holder of the Electronic Arts Endowed Chair of Interactive Entertainment. Tracy is the author of Game Design Workshop: A Playcentric Approach to Designing Innovative Games. This design textbook is in use at game programs worldwide. Recent credits include faculty adviser for the award-winning student games Cloud, and flOw; and game designer for The Night Journey, a unique game/art project with media artist Bill Viola. She is currently designing a game based on Henry David Thoreau's experiment in living at Walden Pond. Also, she is leading a team of designers to create a suite of college knowledge games collectively known as Collegeology Games.
Kathleen Fitzpatrick will be speaking on May 8 as a part of the MAGIC Speaker Series. This talk is co-sponsored with the Digital Humanities Speaker Series, and will be held at 8PM in Carlson Auditorium. The following bio is taken from the website for her latest book, Planned Obsolescence: Publishing, Technology, and the Future of the Academy, and its website at www.plannedobsolescence.net:
Kathleen Fitzpatrick is Director of Scholarly Communication at the Modern Language Association and Visiting Research Professor of English at New York University. She is the author of Planned Obsolescence: Publishing, Technology, and the Future of the Academy, which was published by NYU Press in November 2011; Planned Obsolescence was released in draft form for open peer review in fall 2009. She is also the author of The Anxiety of Obsolescence: The American Novel in the Age of Television, published in 2006 by Vanderbilt University Press (and of course available in print), and she is co-founder of the digital scholarly network MediaCommons. She has published articles and notes in journals including the Journal of Electronic Publishing, PMLA, Contemporary Literature, and Cinema Journal.