Upcoming event explores societal polarization threatening democracy

Man and woman standing opposite of each other, divided by a white line. Social distancing, quarantine, borders and barrier concept.

Artificial intelligence (AI) has the potential to solve important societal problems and has already found broad application, but there remain substantial challenges. York University’s Centre for Artificial Intelligence & Society (CAIS) hosts a monthly speaker series called CAIS Talks to shed light on some of these hurdles – and opportunities. This month, the series features Professor Moshe Vardi, a University professor and the George Distinguished Service Professor in Computational Engineering at Rice University in Houston, with a talk titled “Technology and Democracy.”

Moshe Vardi
Moshe Vardi

On Feb. 15 from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Vardi will discuss the deep societal polarization – in the U.S. and elsewhere – that not only leads to political gridlock but threatens the very foundations of democracy. This hybrid event will take place both online and in person in Osgoode Hall Law School, Room 1014, on York’s Keele Campus.

When speaking of societal polarization, the phrase “the Disunited States of America” is often thrown around. But, according to Vardi, other countries are displaying similar division. At this talk, he will argue that the current state of affairs is the result of the confluence of two “tsunamis” that have unfolded over the past 40 years: one is technology, from the introduction of the IBM personal computer in 1981 to the current domination of public discourse by social media; the second is neoliberal economic policies favouring private enterprise and reduced government spending. The combination of these two shifts, he will argue, has led to both economic and cognitive polarization.

Vardi’s is highly regarded in his field of mathematics and computer science. He holds nine honorary titles, is a recipient of numerous awards, and is the author and co-author of two books and over 750 papers. He serves his community as a fellow of several societies and a member of several academies. He is also a senior editor of premier computing publication Communications of the ACM.

Interested in hearing more? Register by Feb. 9 at CAIS Talks Presents… Moshe Vardi (yorku.ca) to attend. For more information about CAIS, visit yorku.ca/research/cais.