John Markoff at The Interval: Robots and Humans

September 28, 2015

The Long Now Foundation welcomes John Markoff, author and journalist (New York Times) in Conversation with Paul Saffo: “The Quest for Common Ground Between Humans and Robots.” (Sold out — waiting list available)

The Interval at Long Now: check-in begins at 6:30; talk will start at 7:30.

Join us afterwards for drinks and conversation with our speaker Markoff’s book Machines of Loving Grace , which will be on sale and he will sign after the talk.

[An] engrossing narrative filled with colorful characters and head-snapping insights — Walter Isaacson, author of Steve Jobs and The Innovator.

“Conversations at The Interval” welcomes author and veteran tech journalist John Markoff to discuss the subject of his new book with Long Now board member Paul Saffo. Robots are poised to transform society as completely as the Internet did two decades ago, what decisions should we make to balance automation and humanity?

In Machines of Loving Grace, Markoff offers a sweeping history of the complicated and evolving relationship between humans and computers. In recent years, the pace of technological change has accelerated dramatically, posing an ethical quandary. If humans delegate decisions to machines, who will be responsible for the consequences?

From the birth of artificial intelligence in the 1950s and 60s, to today’s consumer products made by Google and Apple, as well as the Boston area’s thriving robotics economy, Markoff traces the ways this question of responsibility. He urges developers to consider the consequences of their work, as we are on the brink of the next stage of the computer revolution which will transform society.

Machines of Loving Grace is the first comprehensive study to place [robots] in the context of the cloud-based intelligence that George Dyson, author of Turing’s Cathedral: The Origins of the Digital Universe

Drawing on his almost forty years covering the tech industry, Markoff conducted numerous interviews and extensive research to assemble this history and pose key questions about how we will co-habitate with our robotic creations.

John Markoff has been a technology and science reporter at the New York Times since 1988. He is the author of several books including What the Dormouse Said: How the Sixties Counterculture Shaped the Personal Computer and Takedown: The Pursuit and Capture of America’s Most Wanted Computer Outlaw, which he co-authored with Tsutomu Shimomura.

Before the Times, Markoff wrote for The San Francisco ExaminerThe San Jose Mercury News, and tech magazines including Infoworld and Byte. Among many journalistic honors, John was part of the team of New York Times reporters that won the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Reporting, and he is a fellow of the Society of Professional Journalists.

Markoff has been a lecturer at UC Berkeley’s School of Journalism, and an adjunct faculty member of the Stanford Graduate Program on Journalism. Born in Oakland, California, he grew up in Palo Alto and lives in San Francisco.

Markoff has been seeing around the corners of the technology revolution throughout his career. Now he uses his full range of vision and experience to examine whether humans can make peace with the coming wave of smart machines. — John Hollar, president and CEO of the Computer History Museum.

— Event producer