November serves up three more lunch talks, including McLaughlin College Union Debate

McLaughlin College invites the York University community to come and listen to interesting speakers as they share their knowledge on a variety of topics during the popular Lunch Talks Series. The long-running series continues this year in a virtual format via Zoom.

Students who attend six or more lunch talks throughout the year will receive a Certificate of Participation, while those who attend 10 or more will receive a Certificate of Honour.

There are three more events in this series scheduled for this month on Nov. 18, 19 and 25, and all events take place online through Zoom.

Nov. 18 – Emergency Management and Civil Liberties, from 1 to 2 p.m.

Michael Bryant
Michael Bryant

This talk is presented by Michael Bryant, the seventh executive director and general counsel of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association.

The COVID-19 pandemic in Canada is a public health emergency which has triggered emergency action on the part of government. Such action has entailed the use of emergency management legislation by all levels of government and resulted in a range of restrictions on a variety of rights. This seminar will canvas the effects of the use of emergency powers on civil liberties and will examine issues concerning the potential overreach of governmental use of these powers. These issues in turn raise questions about the nature of the rule of law and the ethics of the use of emergency powers.

Bryant is a member of the Law Society of Ontario, and was the 35th attorney general of Ontario. He has appeared before all levels of court, from bail courts as duty counsel through the Ontario Court of Appeal and Ontario Review Board as solo practitioner, to the Supreme Court of Canada as counsel at McCarthy Tetrault LLP. A clerk for the former Chief Justice of Canada, he has also been a lecturer in Law at King’s College, London, and adjunct professor at U of T and Osgoode Hall Law School at York University.

Register for this event here:

Nov. 19 – The Election of Elections?, from 12 to 1:30 p.m.

Election 2020

This year’s election in the U.S. is one of the most important in the country’s history. One would have to go back 160 years to the election of Nov. 6, 1860, won by Abraham Lincoln, to find a reasonable facsimile. Then, as now, America is divided into two opposing constituencies to the point where the future of the country is at stake. This panel brings together some of York University’s candid political minds to discuss the significance of this election.

Register for this event here:–tpzIqHdNli3TI-qQo28vEbJKrhpZK.

Nov. 25 – AI as an Existential Threat? The second McLaughlin College Union Debate, from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m.

Organizers have assembled an exceptional panel for the second McLaughlin College Union Debate that will consider the following proposition: The rapidly accelerating advances in artificial intelligence (AI) could pose, quite likely, a serious existential threat to humankind in the not too distant future.

AI research
AI research

Artificial Intelligence (AI) research is accelerating, and its rapid development, innovations, and discoveries are already having an impact on society in quite dramatic ways such as autonomous vehicles, AI-generated music, poetry and storytelling, customer service bots and portals, and so on. The term “transformative AI” is used to describe a range of advances in AI that could impact on society in dramatic and difficult-to-reverse ways. Government policies and regulations will, undoubtedly, find it extremely difficult to keep up with the pace of technological progress with AI.

Researchers are already working on advanced warning systems for any possible extreme events. However, AI forecasting based on measuring AI progress is at its early stages of development and its utility has been challenged by those who point out that it could never be able to account for the revolutionary breakthroughs and discoveries that have the potential to achieve AGI (Artificial General Intelligence), that will allow machines to adapt to a variety of situations to maximize their potential, or to achieve high-level machine intelligence (HLMI), to perform at the level of an average human adult on key cognitive measures necessary for economically relevant tasks, or to achieve “superintelligence,” that Nick Bostrom, states “greatly exceeds the cognitive performance of humans in virtually all domains of interest.” (Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies. Oxford University Press, 2014).

Register for this even here: