November 10-11, 2023
Artificial Intelligence or Artificial Consciousness?

Join us as we gather 16 distinguished scholars from varied fields to discuss artificial intelligence and how this tool is encouraging people to consider more carefully what it means to be human.

How do academics and notables from seemingly disparate areas of expertise grapple with and interrogate multiple readings and understandings of this topic, which permeates all facets of our lives and impacts the future of humanity and designed intelligence? In four salon-like sessions of four participants each, these scholars will come together in conversation (no lecterns, slides, or notes) to share their ideas, discoveries, experiences, hopes, and concerns about AI and its impact on their respective fields and the broader world—as they would around a living room or at a small dinner party.  

KEYNOTE ADDRESS: Consciousness in Place
Brenda Laurel, PhD
Interaction Designer

Brenda's Presentation Notes

Our capacity for awareness moves with us when we traverse spaces. A space may become a “place” when we attend to it. What constitutes a sense of place? How does place co-create identity? How are we affected when a place changes or disappears? How is a place affected when those who made it change or disappear? Is the experience of embodied presence in a place an aspect of consciousness? Through stories and scientific inquires, this talk will take a brief journey through some of the ways that “place” shapes consciousness with sensation, cognition, emotion, memory, imagination, and action.

SESSION 1: The Search to Expand Horizons of Awareness / Invention and Progress / Agency
Medical Doctor and Medical Ethicist,  Joseph J. Fins ’82, Hon. ’22
Planetary Geologist – World’s Expert on Venus Geology, Martha Gilmore
Philosopher of Mind and Cognitive Science, Steve Horst
Inventor, Charles R. Sperry

SESSION 2: Authorship and Legacy / Bias and Discrimination in Design / Justice / Sustainability
Artist, Amber Frid-Jimenez ’97 
Interaction Designer, Brenda Laurel
Architect and Principal at Peterson Rich Office, Nathan Rich ’02
Attorney – Social and Civil Rights Implications of AI, Rashida Richardson ’08

SESSION 3: Creativity and Imagination / The Invention of Identity / Considering Human Rights
Film Historian, Jeanine Basinger
Human Rights Lawyer, Jim Cavallaro  
Engineer – Media, Science, Technology, Data, Hong Qu ’99
Computer Scientist and Game Inventor, Chris Weaver MALS’75, CAS’76

SESSION 4: Policy / Productivity / Economics / Oversight
US Senator from Colorado, Michael Bennet ’87, Hon. ’12, P’27
Intellectual Historian, Paul H. Erickson
Economist, Christiaan Hogendorn
On-Air Correspondent for NBC News, Jacob Ward ’96



Please contact Lisa Sacks ( with questions. 


Hotel rooms can be reserved at the following location:

The Inn at Middletown
70 Main Street
Middletown, Connecticut 06457
(860) 854-6300 

Ask to speak to Mason or Nicole and state that this is for the Shasha Seminar