March McLaughlin lunch talks discuss the future of AI, Trump-Biden transition and more

The popular McLaughlin College Lunch Talks series continues throughout the winter term in a virtual format via Zoom. March features four events, taking place March 10, 11, 17 and 18.

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.

March 10 – Democratic Politics, Ethics, and Expertise: Reflections on Canada’s Fight Against COVID-19, 12:30 to 1:30 p.m.

George Fallis
George Fallis

Presented by George Fallis, University professor emeritus of economics and social science at York University, this talk is a case study of government decisions in a democracy, offering reflections on the role of politicians, experts and ethics.

Fallis begins by exploring what is a democracy and contrasts it with rule by experts – Guardians, Plato called them, deeply committed to governing for the common good and superior to others in their knowledge of how to achieve it. He will then offer a framework for analyzing Canada’s fight against COVID-19, emphasizing that the fight has many rounds and is not over yet, and that Canada faced an unprecedented health crisis and the government’s response brought on an unprecedented economic crisis. Health policy and economic policy are inextricably interconnected.

Examining government decisions at each round of the fight, he will explore the role of politicians versus experts and the role of ethical/value judgments, highlighting the trade-offs confronting decision makers between lives and jobs.

Register for the talk here.

March 11 – Policing at the Brink, 12:30 to 1:30 p.m.

Angelo N. Caravaggio and Ken Hansen
Ken Hansen and Angelo Caravaggio

In this talk, retired lieutenant-colonel and leadership, defence and security specialist Angelo N. Caravaggio, and Ken Hansen, an independent defence analyst and owner of Hansen Maritime Horizons, will discuss the need for the RCMP, Canada’s national police force, to become professionalized.

Retired Chief Justice Bastarache’s report “Broken Dreams, Broken Lives” is another in an ongoing series of devastating criticisms against the RCMP. Bastarache made sweeping recommendations in 16 broad thematic areas about the RCMP’s structure, organization and standard practices. Of these, leadership and training are of principal interest. Caravaggio and Hansen will explore the failure of RCMP leadership and its responsibility for the toxicity within the culture of the federal police force. Bastarache concludes that systemic change is long overdue but that it cannot be accomplished from within the RCMP. They assert that to overcome the effects of a toxic culture, the people within the force must be changed and the best means for doing so is a career-long system of professional development. Good leadership must be rewarded by an incentive-based system of advancement linked with education that identifies best practices and challenges attitudes that do not conform to the highest principles of police service.

Register for the talk here.

March 17 – An AI Future Could be Fantastic or Disastrous, 12:30 to 1:30 p.m.

Stuart Armstrong
Stuart Armstrong

Stuart Armstrong, a research fellow from the Future of Humanity Institute at University of Oxford who has worked with researchers at DeepMind, will present this thought-provoking discussion on the future of AI.

As the power of AI increases, the space of outcomes bifurcates, with great and/or terrible results for society. But is this likely? And what do we mean by AI, anyway? The meaning of the term used to be quite clear, but it has now become more of a buzzword than a clear concept. And if it is true, what can we do to aim for the best and prepare for the worst?

Register for the talk here.

March 18 – The Fourth Anniversary of the Trump Administration: “From Trump to Biden,” 12 to 1:30 p.m.

James Simeon
James Simeon

James C. Simeon, head of McLaughlin College and associate professor at York University’s School of Public Policy and Administration, will moderate this panel discussion on the challenges faced by the U.S. as the country transitions from the Trump to Biden administrations. The discussion will be chaired by Philip MacEwen, who teaches in the Departments of Philosophy and Humanities and is coordinator of the York Collegium for Practical Ethics at York University.

The transition from the Trump to Biden administrations is unprecedented in American history. Despite pleas of “unity” from the latter, it begins with a second impeachment of Donald Trump. What is the record and legacy of the Trump administration and what can the Biden administration do, if anything, to assuage the divide in America between “blue” and “red” states, as well as those which “swing” between the two?

The talk will feature five expert panellists from York:

  • Robert Drummond, University professor emeritus in the Department of Politics and School of Public Policy and Administration;
  • Ian Green, University professor emeritus in the School of Public Policy and Administration;
  • David Leyton-Brown, professor emeritus in the Department of Politics;
  • Ben Lowinsky, professor emeritus, cross-appointed between the Department of Social Science and the Writing Department; and
  • Stephen Newman, associate professor in the Department of Politics

Register for the talk here.