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Tuesday, January 24, 2023 6:00 pm - 6:00 pm EST (GMT -05:00)

The AI tsunami – Where will it take us?

You’re invited to Research Talks, a public event and panel discussion featuring guest speakers Kesha Bodawala - P & P Optica, Evan Jones - Stitch Media, and Sirisha Rambhatla and Will Zhao - University of Waterloo.

Artificial Intelligence (AI), the study of machines and software that exhibit intelligence, is transforming every aspect of society, from financial services, technology, healthcare, manufacturing, and more. AI is dependent on data, that is, AI uses data to make predictions so humans can make data-driven decisions. With the explosion of data over the past two decades, there is an AI tsunami on our threshold. So, we are left with the question, “Where will AI take us?”

Challenge of the Bots: Exploring the social impact of contextual conversational AI

Will Zhao is an Assistant Professor at the Stratford School of Interaction Design and Business, University of Waterloo. He earned his Ph.D. from the French Grande Ecole EM Lyon Business school and pursued his postdoctoral research at Stanford University. He is an interdisciplinary researcher interested in studying innovation from organizational, educational, and engineering perspectives, particularly using multimodal methods that draw on semiotics and/or artificial intelligence techniques. His most recent research on artificial intelligence has been published in leading journals such as IEEE Transactions on Cybernetics.

What’s in your food? Assessing the quality of food products using AI

Kesha Bodawala is the Model Development Lead at P&P Optica (PPO), based in Waterloo, ON. At PPO, she oversees the Machine Learning Team. She works with the team to develop models to assess the quality of meat products. Kesha has a Master's degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering with a focus on machine learning and a Bachelor's degree in Electronics Engineering.

Incorporating AI into storytelling and virtual reality

Evan Jones is the founder of Stitch Media, an interactive media production services company which tells stories using new technology and timeless techniques. A two-time Emmy Award winner, Evan’s work combines web, mobile and games with TV, film, radio, and the real world. He has been recognized as a 'Top 10 New Media Groundbreaker' by the Bell Fund and chosen as one of the ‘most innovative and influential minds in McMaster history’ by his alma mater. His interactive documentary work has won ‘Best in Electronic Culture’ at the UNESCO World Summit and his experience with branded entertainment has won ‘Best in Digital Marketing’ by the Digi Awards. Evan has guest lectured on the art & business of interactive story internationally at the Canadian Film Centre, the Australian Film, Television & Radio School and the University of Southern California. He has consulted for the Smithsonian, Greenpeace, Microsoft, Disney, NBC, Universal, Nickelodeon, and 20th Century Fox on the future of entertainment.

AI and the future of healthcare

Sirisha Rambhatla is an Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Waterloo, where she leads the Critical ML Lab as the director. Her research focusses on developing deep learning-based reliable artificial intelligence (AI) models for critical real-world decision making in surgery and healthcare, covid spread, climate change, and intelligent manufacturing and aviation using spatiotemporal modelling, representation learning, and explainable AI. Her inter-disciplinary work spans both theory and practice of machine learning (ML), has been published at top ML venues such as NeurIPS, ICLR, KDD, IJCAI, AAAI, and clinical venues such as AMIA, Surgery, American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases. Recipient of the 2021 Merit Award for Excellence in Postdoctoral Research at the University of Southern California, Dr. Rambhatla received her Ph.D. (EE) from the University of Minnesota -- Twin Cities in 2019.

Pizza and non-alcoholic beverages will be provided.

Donations of non-perishable food items for the Salvation Army - Stratford Food Bank will be accepted.

The following events are lectures, panels and workshops hosted by a variety of researchers across the globe, discussing themes related to decolonization, equity, accessibility and diversity in games and game communities. Times are EST/EDT; they are tentative and may be subject to change. Event registration details to come.

This panel highlights emerging scholars in Black games studies. Panelists will present recent and/or ongoing work, sharing a glimpse of the emerging research questions animating the field. 

Wednesday, September 20, 2023 5:00 pm - 6:30 pm EDT (GMT -04:00)

Critical Tech Talk: Black Media Philosophy and Beyond with Armond R. Towns

Much of the contemporary research on race in communication media studies begins with media representations. However, for this talk, Armond R. Towns will focus on the relationship between the modern research university, race, and the development of communication and media studies in the early and mid-twentieth century, with a focus specifically on US and Canadian communication and media studies. Like the modern university, the discipline of communication and media studies, Towns argues, has a difficulty with understanding non-Western life. This talk is a beginning conversation on how to push toward new forms of understanding humanity beyond Western life. The topic of who counts as human is crucial in a context where big tech aims to control the future of so-called humanity and the AI race closes the gap between human and machine communications.

This is a hybrid in-person and virtual event. Following the talk, there will be a short reception for in-person attendees at the Science Teaching Complex (STC) Room 0050.

Monday, September 25, 2023 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm EDT (GMT -04:00)

Black Virtuality - ADE for Games Communities Workshop and Speaker Series

Across digital media, Black people are portrayed in ways that are derogatory, inaccurate, stereotypical, demeaning, and otherwise harmful. And Black culture is often depersonalized and extracted from Black bodies. Through projects like ‘Ye or Nay? and the Open-Source Afro Hair Library, artist A.M. Darke reimagines the construction and consumption of Black bodies in virtual space, discussing critical approaches to portraying Blackness in games and virtual space.