Critical Tech Talk

Upcoming events

Critical Tech Talk: AI Five Ways

Monday, May 16 | 7 - 10 p.m. ET | Free | Hybrid

The third event in this series of honest talks about innovation features five experts from across domains and disciplines of AI.

As AI grows more prevalent, even to the point of making life-and-death decisions for humans, principles of responsible AI must be implemented to ensure safety, dignity, privacy and autonomy for all. In this roundtable discussion, hear from five experts across different professional and disciplinary backgrounds on their approaches to the field and perspectives on the future of responsible AI.

On May 16, we invite you to join us in-person at the Engineering 7 building on the University of Waterloo campus, or virtually via livestream. We will be joined by five expert panelists from across industry and academia:

Hessie Jones headshot

Hessie Jones

Hessie Jones is a strategist, writer and venture partner advocating for human-centered AI, education and the ethical distribution of AI in this era of transformation. As a seasoned digital strategist, author, tech geek and data junkie, she has spent the last 18 years at Yahoo!, Aegis Media, CIBC, and Citi, as well as co-founding tech startups. Hessie is also a board member with Technology for Good Canada and policy chair with Big Science Project at Hugging Face in defining, detecting and remediating personal information; a member of Women in AI Ethics Collective, and a frequent contributor to Forbes, Towards Data Science and GritDaily.

Patricia Thaine headshot

Patricia Thaine

Patricia Thaine is co-founder and CEO of Private AI, a Microsoft-backed startup, and is also a computer science PhD candidate at the University of Toronto (on leave) and Vector Institute alumna. Her R&D work is focused on privacy-preserving natural language processing, with a focus on applied cryptography and re-identification risk. She also does research on computational methods for lost language decipherment. Patricia is a recipient of the NSERC Postgraduate Scholarship, the RBC Graduate Fellowship, the Beatrice “Trixie” Worsley Graduate Scholarship in Computer Science, and the Ontario Graduate Scholarship.

Reza Zadeh headshot

Reza Zadeh

Reza Bosagh Zadeh is founder and CEO at Matroid and an Adjunct Professor at Stanford. His work focuses on machine learning, distributed computing, and discrete applied mathematics. He’s served on the technical advisory boards of Databricks, and has been working on artificial intelligence since 2005 when he worked in Google’s AI research team. As part of his research, Reza built the machine learning algorithms behind Twitter's who-to-follow system, the first product to use machine learning at Twitter. In addition to research, Reza designed and teaches two PhD-level classes at Stanford: Distributed Algorithms and Optimization (CME 323), and Discrete Mathematics and Algorithms (CME 305).

Student respondents:

Kem-Laurin Lubin is a Ph.D. Candidate at the University of Waterloo, where she focuses on AI models used in apps deployed in digital citizen management, specifically judiciary, healthcare, and education-based apps. She explores how AI models are rhetorical in nature and are emergent textual forms, with an inherent discursivity that negatively informs the material outcomes for users and doing so with its built-in bias. She is also the founder of the AI-HCI Working group, as well as the Exec. Director of the NFP Organization, Canadian Tech for Social Good, focused on AI and Tech Literacy for all Canadians.

Ben Armstrong is a PhD Candidate in Computer Science at the University of Waterloo where he is affiliated with the Artificial Intelligence Group. His research combines machine learning and social choice with a particular focus on using machine learning techniques to develop and evaluate novel methods of voting, such as liquid democracy or sortition. He has also helped to run several graduate and undergraduate courses on the social implications of computer science, and the intersection of artificial intelligence, ethics, and law. Ben is a recipient of the NSERC Postgraduate Scholarship and multiple Ontario Graduate Scholarships.

Past events

Discriminating Data: A Conversation with Wendy Chun

February 10, 2022 

Have you ever observed a divisive, rage-fuelled fight online and wondered about the role technology played in the background? In her most recent work, Wendy Chun reveals how polarization is a goal – not an error – within big data and machine learning, and how these elements encode discrimination to create agitated clusters of comforting rage.

Video recording coming soon. 

The Digital Frontier and Its Limits featuring Nicole Aschoff

November 8, 2021 

Silicon Valley companies have brought digital technology into every sphere of modern life. But, while big tech garners unprecedented power and profits, everyday existence becomes more and more entangled in the circuits of capital. To what end? What are the limits of the digital frontier?

Video recording coming soon. 

Sure you can build it. But should you?

What it means to be human (and humane)

Wanna talk about tech? Then you also have to talk about ethics. From data harvesting to the conflict minerals in our smartphones, critical thinking is shifting the momentum towards positive change – towards Tech for Good®.

Communitech has teamed up with the University of Waterloo to explore the ethical tech movement and encourage honest conversations about innovation from diverse perspectives. Each faculty at the University of Waterloo will co-host a techno-critical speaker with the Faculty of Arts. Speakers will ask the tough questions and will debate the status quo and promote an ethos of responsible innovation in the local tech ecosystem and beyond.

Thanks to our partner

University of Waterloo logo
Professor Marcel O'Gorman

Have questions?

Professor Marcel O'Gorman is happy to help.

University of Waterloo | Email Professor Marcel O'Gorman