Our program sponsors


12 compelling events starting Oct 24

How will the world work when robots make our decisions, manage our health care, and write our literature? When computers “judge” our guilt and manipulate our elections? When our personal data is sold to the highest bidder? Don’t look now, but it’s happening already.

Canada is a world leader in the development of artificial intelligence. Now we must fathom the ethical and political questions it raises.

Running from October 24 - November 29, 2019. Find speaker photos and bios here.

Thursdays at the Columbus Community Centre, 232 Spencer St. E. Cobourg

NEW LOCATION! Fridays at the Port Hope Knights of Columbus Hall, 2 Elias St, Port Hope (behind the Capitol Theatre)

1 interactive workshop

An interactive, limited attendance session with CIFAR, Canada’s global science think tank.

Friday, December 6, 2019, 10 am at Cobourg’s Venture 13.

2 classic AI films

Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey (Nov 5) and Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner (Nov 19).

$10 at the door; 7 pm at Cobourg’s The Loft


thursday, October 24, 7:30 PM 

The Big Picture

Scientists began talking about AI sixty years ago; now we’re into deep learning.  Over the next decade, AI could become the most transformative technology since electricity, with changes that will make our lives safer and more fulfilling. But why did Stephen Hawking call AI potentially “the end of the human race”? How do we keep it under control?

Ira Basen, CBC broadcaster

Friday, october 25, 10:00 AM                 

Working for the man…robot?

Remember the elevator operator? Long gone; a victim of automation. That’s been the story of technology in the workplace. But the threat posed to millions of workers by AI will make other technological innovations seem benign. How we respond to AI in the workplace will have profound social and economic ramifications.

Ira Basen, CBC broadcaster


thursday, October 31, 7:30 PM


It started when Deep Blue beat Gary Kasparov at chess. Then AlphaGo mastered the ancient, abstract Chinese game of Go. Game designer Melissa MacCoubrey talks about developing video games and where AI might take games and gamers.

Melissa MacCoubrey, Ubisoft, Game Designer

Sponsored by James W. Gordon Insurance Brokers Ltd.                                       

friday, november 1, 10:00 AM

Making Literature with Computers

AI is not all doomsday scenarios, robot armies, and mass unemployment. Adam Hammond looks at the positive: AI as an aide to the creative process.  He will explain an algorithm that helped write the perfect science fiction story, and a sonnet generator that seeks to rival Shakespeare.

Adam Hammond, University of Toronto

thursday, November 7, 7:30 PM


Vandermeer logo.jpg

Does a driverless bus plunge over the cliff and risk killing its passengers, or keep going and hit children playing in the road? Can algorithms make ethical decisions? Or will AI make our roads safer by eliminating human error? Driverless cars force us to confront our own morality.    Barrie Kirk grapples with the answers.

Barrie Kirk, Executive Director, Canadian Autonomous Vehicles Centre of Excellence (CAVCO)

Sponsored by Vandermeer Toyota

friday, november 8, 10:00 AM

smart cities - smart planning?

Can we escape surveillance culture? Do people control urban technology and the tech giants who own that technology, or is it the other way round? That’s the challenge facing smart cities everywhere – none more so than Waterfront Toronto. Kristina Verner discusses the goals and challenges in creating smart cities.

Kristina Verner, Vice President Innovation, Sustainability and Prosperity, Waterfront Toronto                                                    

thursday, November 14, 7:30 PM


States the world over are turning to artificial intelligence and new technologies to police borders and manage migration. Lawyer Petra Molnar discusses the far-reaching human rights implications of these technological experiments.

Petra Molnar, University of Toronto

friday, november 15, 9:30 am

The discriminating algorithm

Artificial intelligence is getting a good workout in predictive policing, criminal justice, and social services, but just as people discriminate, so can algorithms. Are we teaching computers to make judgments based on race, religion, and gender?

Petra Molnar, University of Toronto

thursday, November 21, 7:30 PM

IS BIG DATA CHANGING DEMOCRACY?                                                

Wesley Wark discusses security and the role of big data in democratic events: the U.S. 2016 presidential election, the Brexit referendum, and our own federal election. Do the forces behind big data now have the largest vote in our democracy?

Wesley Wark, University of Ottawa                                                          

Cobourg Police logo.jpg

friday, november 22, 10:00 AM

Rebooting regulation

Wesley Wark talks about privacy and protection of our personal data. Can we trust the tech giants to self-regulate? Should government make the rules? How much responsibility must we take to protect ourselves?

Wesley Wark, University of Ottawa

Sponsored by Cobourg Police Service

thursday, November 28, 7:30 PM


Healthcare is behind in reaping the benefits and confronting the challenges of AI: we are still not basing day-to-day decisions on real time data. But there are big ways AI can make things faster, better, cheaper, and smarter.  Zayna Khayat will discuss where and how fast AI is going in healthcare as well as the risks and opportunities; she will also dispel some common myths.

Zayna Khayat, Future Strategist SE Health, Singularity University

Friday, November 29, 10:00 AM

WHAT DO PATIENTS NEED TO KNOW?                                                       

AI is increasingly part of clinical care in hospitals and other healthcare settings, but many are concerned about the ethical implications. We will learn what is going on in hospitals in Canada, and what patients should know about navigating this new technology.

Melissa McCradden, Sick Kids Hospital and Vector Institute for AI

Wrap-up event on Fri Dec 6 at 10 AM



Canada’s Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR) plays a significant role in artificial intelligence research in Canada and around the world.

CIFAR’s AI and Society Team, led by Brent Barron, presents AI 101: an introduction, and a case study in public policy surrounding health care, housing, and law. Facilitators will take break-out groups through AI applications to the problem.

Venture 13, 739 D’Arcy St., Cobourg

*First come, first served. Early bird discount not available for this event.