Sept. 23-25, 2022


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.

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 Arts
  • Lonny J Avi Brooks, Co-Founder, AfroRithm Futures Group and Professor of Strategic Communication, California State University East Bay
  • moderated 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 Group
  • Sharon Strover, Professor, UTexas at Austin and Co-Director, Technology & Information Policy Institute
  • Moderated 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

PAST events

Black Utopias in a Post-Pandemic World

Thursday, November 19, 7pm [Zoom]

There is a powerful tradition of utopian practice and thought in African American communities. From black towns like Mound Bayou, Mississippi to the lyrical imaginings of Afrofuturism, Black utopias have been a potent response to racial inequality and suffering. At this moment of rupture, with the related crises of the pandemic, racial uprisings, climate change and economic decline, Black Utopian thought and practice offer alternative paths to the future. On Thursday, November 19 leading scholars and artists in the field of Afrofuturism and Black Utopia will engage in a conversation about the role Black Utopian thinking can play at this crucial moment.

  • Convener and moderator: Victoria W. Wolcott, Professor of History, University at Buffalo;
  • Julian C. Chambliss, Professor of English with an appointment in History and the Val Berryman Curator of History at the MSU Museum at Michigan State University;
  • John Jennings, Professor of Media and Cultural Studies, UC Riverside;
  • Alex Zamalin, Director of African American Studies and Assistant Professor of Political Science, University of Detroit, Mercy.

Presented through the generous support of Humanities New York.