The Mellon Sawyer Seminars at Boston University


Professors Juliet Floyd (BU Philosophy), James E. Katz (BU Division of Emerging Media) and Russell Powell (BU Philosophy) have been awarded a $175,000 grant from the Mellon Foundation to convene a Sawyer Seminar in 2016-2018, titled “The Philosophy of Emerging Computational Technologies: Humans, Values and Society in Transition.” The Mellon Foundation’s Sawyer Seminar program, which it first established in 1994, provides support for comparative research on historical and contemporary topics of major scholarly significance. BU’s seminar plans a series of at least six workshops and public events, focused on ethical, social, legal, and epistemological issues arising out of emerging computational technologies. Experts from other universities will visit BU to discuss their newest ideas, joined by up-and-coming faculty in the Boston area and members of dedicated graduate seminars inPhilosophy and Emerging Media. Specific topics will include Social Media and Democracy, Human-Machine Interface and the Ethics of Artificial Intelligence, Big Data and the End User, Hypertext and Digital Humanities Resources, and Privacy in the Digital Age.

The aim is to foster an inclusive, reflective conversation in the Boston Area about how best to thematize, research, and reason about philosophical, social and ethical understandings of everyday life in an age of rapid technological transformation.