2022 Buffalo Humanities Festival: Life (in the Age of Artificial Intelligence)

A festival of ideas with an evening of gameplay and 2 days of community talks

With each passing day, we are discovering how artificial intelligence (AI) is ever-present in our lives. And if you think it’s simply a fad, think again. Whether we’re looking at self-driving cars or social media, we are all on a path that is taking us far into the future, today. After all, it really wasn’t that long ago that people thought that Dick Tracy communicating on his watch was pure fantasy. Or that all of the crazy gadgets in The Jetsons were merely fun impossibilities. But today we have Alexa, and robotic vacuum cleaners… and pretty soon there will be flying cars in our driveways and delivery drones on our doorsteps. It’s all too real, which is the scary part.

As a way to take a closer look at how advanced technology is creeping into our lives, The Buffalo Humanities Festival will be considering the benefits and the shortcomings of AI. This is an excellent opportunity to evolve the conversation, in interactive ways, at inspirational settings.

“The Buffalo Humanities Festival runs from 9/23-9/25 and is supported by a thriving partnership between UB’s Humanities Institute, Buffalo State College, Canisius College, Niagara University, Daemen University, and various community partners,” said Dr. Christina Milletti, Interim Director Humanities Institute. “Each year the Festival looks at various social justice oriented issues. This year the theme is ‘Life in the Age of Artificial Intelligence.’ The Friday night event at Torn Space Theater: AfroRithms from the Future, is a story-telling performance game which uses Afrofuturist principles to help the audience collectively imagine avenues to dismantling systemic racism. Or [attend] the many panels and performances at Silo City on Saturday and Sunday that will explore the benefits and risks associated with artificial intelligence.”

The schedule:

Friday, Sept. 23 | 6pm | Torn Space Theater | An Evening with AfroRithms from the FutureSaturday, Sept. 24 | 11am | Silo City | Life (in the Age of Artificial Intelligence): Community Conversations Day 1Sunday, Sept. 25 | 11am | Silo City | Life (in the Age of Artificial Intelligence): Community Conversations Day 2

Visit for detailed schedule, parking, and venue info.

The full schedule is available at Also, see list of participants.

Click here to register for the festival.

All events are free and open to the public.

FRIDAY, SEPT. 23 | 6pm | Torn Space Theater

An evening with AfroRithms from the Future

What is AfroRithms from the Future?

AfroRithms from the Future is an inclusive, design thinking, story-telling game built on the principle of shifting from a center of Western cultural views to alternative future worlds where Black and BIPOC cultural perspectives are at the forefront. An explicit goal is to “democratize the future [and to] intentionally anticipate democratic anti-racist futures where Black and BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color) futures matter.”

Join us for an evening with Ahmed Best and Lonny J Avi Brooks as we gather to play and imagine an equitable future, advanced through technology. We’ve invited featured guest players from the community, but all are welcome to join in the game!

SATURDAY, SEPT. 24 | 11am – 4:15pm | Silo City

Opening Session | AfroRithms from the Future: After the Game

Ahmed Best, Co-Founder, AfroRithm Futures Group and Adjunct Professor, USC School of Dramatic ArtsLonny J Avi Brooks, Co-Founder, AfroRithm Futures Group and Professor of Strategic Communication, California State University East Baymoderated by Dalia Antonia Caraballo Muller, Associate Professor, UB, with featured guest players from the night before.

You are travelers of the multiverse exploring possible futures and creating exciting new artifacts to send back out to all other parallel worlds. The game is simple. Have a conversation about the future and activate your radical imagination!

AfroRithms from the Future

SUNDAY, SEPT. 25 | 11am – 4:15pm | Silo City

Opening Session | Good Systems Project: Human Values and AI

Samuel Baker, Associate Professor, UTexas at Austin and Co-Founder Good Systems GroupSharon Strover, Professor, UTexas at Austin and Co-Director, Technology & Information Policy InstituteModerated by Kenny Joseph, Assistant Professor, Computer Science & Engineering, UB

It is ethically irresponsible to focus only on what AI can do. We believe it is equally important to ask what it should (and should not) do.

UTexas Bridging Barriers Good Systems Group

Once the stuff of science fiction, artificial intelligence now impacts the most fundamental operations of our everyday lives. AI shapes the advertising we see, the videos we watch, the search engine data we rely on. It is embedded in health care procedures and transportation safety and is key to technologies that may one day help resuscitate our climate or take us to Mars. At the same time, AI is instrumental in forming siloed social media conversations that confuse fact and fiction, creating distrust, dissension and violence.

The 2022 Buffalo Humanities Festival will investigate the many complex, often paradoxical, ways artificial intelligence now intervenes in our lives with the help of artists, scholars and community activists who will showcase the integration of algorithms, machine learning, and other forms of artificial intelligence in both common and other-worldly applications. Please join us for an interdisciplinary examination of not only AI itself—but how our lives are built around, with, and in spite of its influence.

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