Past Event

Are We Really Going To Live Forever? The Promises and Perils of Artificial Intelligence

From the Twilight Zone and Star Trek to George Orwell’s 1984, artists have been helping us imagine artificial intelligence (AI) for decades. Now, technology has caught up to what artists have been dreaming up, and AI is already transforming the way we live, work, and play.

  • What are the moral implications of AI?
  • As we progress in this field, how do we know what makes us human vs machine?
  • What are our national security concerns for the future?

The School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) and Illinois Humanities invite you to join a panel of experts in the fields of art, science, theology, national security, and tech as they provide their insights on the promises and perils of AI and explore the answers to these questions.

This event is free and open to the public, though seating is limited. RESERVE YOUR SEAT today by emailing


  • Moderated by Raja Halwani—Professor, Philosophy, SAIC
  • Pete Beckman—Co-Director, Northwestern University-Argonne National Laboratory Institute for Science and Technology
  • Rachel Bronson—Executive Director and Publisher, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists
  • Eduardo Kac—Professor, Art and Technology Studies, SAIC
  • Malcolm MacIver—Professor, Departments of Mechanical Engineering and Biomedical Engineering, Northwestern University
  • Walter Massey—Chancellor, SAIC; former Director, Argonne National Laboratory and the National Science Foundation
  • Christophe D. Ringer—Assistant Professor, Theological Ethics and Society, Chicago Theological Seminary

More on the Panelists

Raja Halwani is a Professor of philosophy in the Department of Liberal Arts at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He received his BA in economics in 1988 from the American University of Beirut, and his PhD in philosophy from Syracuse University in 1996. In addition to authoring numerous essays, he is the author of Virtuous Liaisons: Care, Love, Sex, and Virtue Ethics (2003), the editor of Sex and Ethics: Essays on Sexuality, Virtue, and the Good Life (2007), the co-author (with Tomis Kapitan) of The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: Philosophical Essays on Self-Determination, Terrorism, and the One-State Solution (2008), the author of Love, Sex, and Marriage: A Philosophical Introduction (2010), the co-editor of Queer Philosophy: Presentations of the Society for Lesbian and Gay Philosophy, 1998–2008 (2012), and the co-editor of The Philosophy of Sex: Contemporary Readings, the 6th and 7th editions (2013, 2017).

Pete Beckman is the Co-director of the Northwestern University -Argonne Institute for Science and Engineering. He founded the Waggle project, whose technology and software framework is used in the Array of Things project to deploy 500 sensors on the streets of Chicago. Beckman previously served as Director of the Argonne Leadership Computing Facility and was chief architect for the National Science Foundation’s TeraGrid, the world’s most powerful grid computing system for linking production high-performance computing (HPC) centers. He worked at Los Alamos National Laboratory on extreme-scale software before founding the research laboratory that developed the world’s first dynamic provisioning system for cloud computing and HPC clusters. Today Beckman coordinates the collaborative research activities in extreme-scale computing between the US Department of Energy and Japan’s Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology. Beckman received his PhD in computer science from Indiana University.

Rachel Bronson is the Executive Director and Publisher of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists where she oversees the publishing programs, the management of the Doomsday Clock, and a growing set of activities around nuclear weapons, nuclear energy, climate change, and emerging technologies. Before joining the Bulletin, she served for eight years at The Chicago Council on Global Affairs in a number of capacities including, Vice President of Studies; Vice President of Programs and Studies; and Senior Fellow, Global Energy. She also taught the course Global Energy as an Adjunct Professor at the Kellogg School of Management. She earned a BA in history at the University of Pennsylvania and a MA and PhD in political science from Columbia University in 1997.

Eduardo Kac is internationally recognized for his telepresence and bio art. A pioneer of telecommunications art, Kac emerged in the early 1990s with his radical works combining tele-robotics and living organisms. He opened a new direction for contemporary art with his “transgenic art”—first with the groundbreaking Genesis (1999), which included an “artist’s gene” he invented, and then with Green Fluorescent Protein (GFP) Bunny, his fluorescent rabbit called Alba (2000). Kac’s work has been exhibited internationally, showcased in numerous biennials, and featured in contemporary art publications and books. His awards include the Golden Nica Award, the most prestigious award in the field of media arts and the highest prize awarded by Ars Electronica. He lectures and publishes worldwide.

Malcolm A. MacIver earned his PhD in neuroscience at the Beckman Institute of Advanced Science and Technology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, in 2001. He was a Postdoctoral Fellow in mechanical engineering at the Center for Neuromorphic Systems Engineering and the Computation and Neural Systems Program at California Institute of Technology before joining Northwestern University in 2003 with a joint appointment with the Department of Mechanical Engineering and the Department of Biomedical Engineering, where he is currently an Associate Professor. MacIver’s research interests include the mechanical and neural basis of animal behavior, particularly the intersection of information harvesting and biomechanics. He utilizes a variety of approaches spanning behavioral analysis, computer simulations, robotics, neurobiology, and mechanics.

Walter Massey is Chancellor of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC), having previously served as its President. He is also Chairman of the Giant Magellan Telescope Organization, responsible for guiding the construction of the world’s largest optical telescope. Massey began his career as a physicist at leading research universities before his appointment as Director of Argonne National Laboratory and then as Director of the National Science Foundation under President George H.W. Bush. In 1995, Massey returned to Morehouse College, his alma mater, where he was President for more than a decade. Massey is a Director of the McDonald’s Corporation and is the former Chairman of Bank of America. He has also served on the boards of numerous nonprofit organizations, including the Mellon Foundation, the MacArthur Foundation, and the Smithsonian Institution and has received honorary degrees from 40 universities, including Yale, Northwestern, Columbia, and Brown.

Christophe Ringer is Assistant Professor of Theological Ethics and Society at Chicago Theological Seminary, where his research interests range from theological and social ethics to religion and biopolitics. He remains convinced that a variety of disciplines are necessary to comprehend the ethical complexities our world faces today and the challenges we cannot yet imagine. Ringer’s recent article in Black Theology: An International Journal addresses the challenges of DNA technology and Afrofuturism, and his upcoming book Necropolitics: The Religious Situation of U.S. Mass Incarceration examines religious and cultural meanings that sustain mass incarceration and other forms of social death in American public life.

If you require a sign interpreter or any other arrangements to fully participate in this program, please contact at least 72 hours in advance of the event.