Artificial Intelligence: Is There a Ghost in the Machine?

Tuesday, November 19, 2019, Martha's Exchange Restaurant & Brewing Co., Nashua

In this program we explored the history and ethical challenges surrounding artificial intelligence, the risks and benefits, and who gets to decide which is which.

The Big Questions we explored:

• What is artificial intelligence and in what ways do machines think differently from humans?
• What are the ethical and privacy issues involved in artificial intelligence?
• What is the impact of artificial intelligence and machine learning on our regional and state economy and workforce?
• Are humans replaceable?
• Can artificial intelligence create works of art and literature?  And more...


Dr. Tricia Peone, Public Programs Director, New Hampshire Humanities, runs the Humanities to Go, Humanities at Work, Ideas on Tap, and podcast programs. She holds a Ph.D. from UNH in early American history with a specialization in the history of science. Before joining New Hampshire Humanities, Tricia taught courses on New England history as an adjunct professor and worked as a historical consultant in the cultural resources industry. She is an expert on the history of magic and the occult from the Renaissance to today. She has seen The Matrix at least a dozen times and looks forward to a dystopian future where it’s always the late 1990s.


Jesse Damiani, Deputy Director of Emerging Technology at SNHU, is an entrepreneur, advisor, journalist, curator, educator, and public figure in emerging technology. He is Editor-at-Large of VRScout, Series Editor of Best American Experimental Writing, and CEO of Galatea, a screenwriting and project management tool for virtual reality (VR) stories. He covers VR, blockchain, AI, art, and media, with work in Adweek, Billboard, Entrepreneur, IndieWire, HuffPost, and Quartz. Jesse worked with Google in their initiative to develop educational content for the VR industry and was listed as a top global VR influencer in 2017 by Onalytica. Jesse holds an MFA in creative writing from University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Dr. Mihaela Malita, Associate Professor of Computer Science at Saint Anselm College
, has taught for the last 15 years. She holds a master's and Ph.D. from the University of Bucharest, Romania. She taught artificial intelligence and advanced algorithms in universities in Romania and the United States at Saint Anselm College, Smith College, and Saint Mary's College of MD. She is an active member of the Computer Science Teachers Association and organizes the high school programming contest every year. She speaks Romanian and French, and enjoys good literature, music, art, and hiking in the beautiful New Hampshire forests with her Golden Retriever. 


Dr. Wheeler Ruml, Professor of Computer Science at UNH, is a Professor of Computer Science at the University of New Hampshire, co-founder of the International Symposium on Combinatorial Search, a Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors, a Senior Member of the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence, and a former Associate Editor of the Journal of Artificial Intelligence Research. His research papers have been cited more than 5,000 times. He received his PhD from Harvard in 2002. Before joining UNH, he led a team at Xerox's PARC lab that used AI planning techniques to build the world's fastest printer.


Suggested reading:

What Frankenstein's Creature Can Really Tell Us About AI
The Dark Secret at the Heart of AI
Looking For Art in Artificial Intelligence
Mary Shelly, Frankenstein; or, the Modern Prometheus (1818) available in many editions, or read it online here
Brian Christian, The Most Human Human (2011)
Watch the recent episode of Frontline about AI
Learn about Alan Turing and early AI research

View the program

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For more information about Ideas on Tap, contact Dr. Tricia Peone, Programs Director, at 603-224-4071, ext. 115 or

Interested in these topics?

Want to explore them more? Organize a similar event or a whole series in your community
with the support of a New Hampshire Humanities Community Project Grant.