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Event Details

Kate Crawford: Anatomy of AI

9 December 2019
6.30pm – 7.30pm AEDT
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Kate Crawford portrait

2019 Wallace Wurth Lecture

Artificial intelligence (AI) is hard to see – but it’s already being built into the infrastructure of our core institutions, from education, business, healthcare, hiring, to the work of government itself. 

But what actually is “artificial intelligence,” particularly when it’s deployed in our homes and workplaces? Encased in sleek consumer products like the Amazon Echo, we rarely consider the vast underlying network of data collection, exploitation of human labor, and physical resource extraction. All have enormous implications for society and the environment. 

Dr Kate Crawford of the AI Now Institute, and co-creator of Anatomy of an AI System, will deliver the annual Wallace Wurth Lecture on the wider system of extraction that makes artificial intelligence systems work. AI systems are already radically changing the way businesses, governments, and individuals interact with one another. Addressing the far-reaching consequences of AI – social, environmental, economic, and political – is increasingly urgent. 

“At this moment in the 21st century, we see a new form of extractivism that is well underway: one that reaches into the furthest corners of the biosphere and the deepest layers of human cognitive and affective being. Many of the assumptions about human life made by machine learning systems are narrow, normative and laden with error. Yet these assumptions are being inscribed into a new world, and will increasingly play a role in how opportunities, wealth, and knowledge are distributed.”
– Kate Crawford and Vladan Joler, Anatomy of an AI System

Chaired by Toby Walsh, Scientia Professor of AI, UNSW Sydney

This event is presented by the UNSW Centre for Ideas and is a part of the UNSW Grand Challenge: Living with 21st Century Technology.

About the Wallace Wurth Lecture 

The Wallace Wurth Lecture was first held  in 1964 to commemorate the memory of the late Wallace Charles Wurth, the first President of the Council of the New South Wales University of Technology and the first Chancellor of the University. The first lecture was delivered by the then Prime Minister of Australia, the Right Honourable Sir Robert Menzies and recent speakers include Gail Kelly, Stan Grant and Daniel Dennett. 


Wheelchair Accessible

The Roundhouse is located at UNSW Sydney's Kensington Campus, E6 on this map (PDF). You can be dropped off close to the Roundhouse north entrance (D5 on map). Vehicles need to arrive via High Street, Gate 2, follow the road to Third Avenue and turn onto 1st Ave West. The closest accessible parking is available in the Western Campus Car Park on Anzac Parade (G2 on map).

Hearing Loop Available

Hearing Loop Available

Please see a FOH staff member if you have any questions.


The Centre for Ideas can provide Auslan interpreting services for selected talks upon request. 


To discuss your access requirements and to book selected access services, please call the Centre for Ideas on 02 9385 9844 or email

The Centre for Ideas is happy to receive phone calls via the National Relay Service. TTY users, phone 133 677, then ask for 02 9385 9844. Speak and Listen users, phone 1300 555 727 then ask for 02 9385 9844. Internet relay users, visit, then ask for 02 9385 9488.

Kate Crawford portrait

Kate Crawford

Kate Crawford is a leading academic researcher who has spent over a decade studying the social and political implications of artificial intelligence (AI) and algorithmic systems. Her prior work has drawn attention to the ways that AI systems can produce biased and discriminatory decisions. She is currently writing a new book that reframes the understanding of AI in the wider context of history, politics, labour, and the environment. Kate is a Distinguished Research Professor at New York University, where she co-founded the AI Now Institute – the world’s first university institute dedicated to the broader social impacts of AI. She is also a Principal Researcher at Microsoft Research, and an honorary professor at the UNSW Sydney. Her research has appeared in Nature, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The New Yorker, and Harper’s Magazine. She has advised policy makers at the United Nations, the European Union, and she has participated in AI policy processes for the French, German and Argentinian governments. In 2018, Kate was awarded the Richard von Weizsäcker Fellowship in Germany, and she currently serves on France’s 3IA scientific advisory jury. Her forthcoming book will be published by Yale University Press in 2020.

Toby Walsh

Toby Walsh (Host)

Toby Walsh is an ARC Laureate Fellow and Scientia Professor of AI at UNSW Sydney and CSIRO Data61. He is a strong advocate for limits to ensure AI is used to improve our lives, having spoken at the UN, and to heads of state, parliamentary bodies, company boards and many other bodies on this topic. He is a Fellow of the Australia Academy of Science, and was named on the international Who's Who in AI list of influencers. He has authored three books on AI for a general audience, the most recent entitled Machines Behaving Badly: the morality of AI

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