Keynote/Performance: What is AI?

New York Live Arts Theater
May 8 at 6 PM
Tickets start at $15

Opening Keynote and Lecture Performance to the 2019 Live Ideas Festival.
A LECTURE in the form of a PERFORMANCE, a PERFORMANCE in the form of a LECTURE to give the audience an overview of AI’s past, present and future. Composer and vocalist Nick Hallett will give us a musical rendition of a brief history of AI;  Meredith Broussard, professor of digital journalism at NYU and author of Artifiicial Unintelligence, will tell us how we got to the present, explain some general concepts, and help us think critically about AI; Hip hop, spoken word and theatre artist Baba Israel will deliver a list of where and how AI is used; Patricia Marx, New Yorker staff writer, author and humorist, will tell us all about robots; and drag performance artist Ragamuffin will take us to the future.

Runtime: Approx 75 minutes

Baba Israel is a Hip Hop/Theater artist, producer, educator and consultant raised in New York by parents who were core members of the Living Theatre. He was Artistic Director of Contact Theatre in Manchester where he developed several festivals and productions. He was a resident artist at BRIC creating his last multimedia performance The Spinning Wheel in collaboration with London based company Unfinished Business. He is a core member of Hip Hop/Soul project Soul Inscribed who recently completed the American Music Abroad program. He has collaborated with musicians such as Lester Bowie, Philip Glass, Vernon Reid, Jason Lindner, and Arturo O’Farrill. He holds an MFA in Interdisciplinary Arts from Goddard College and is the Co-Artistic Director of the Performance Project based at the University Settlement. He is a proud member of HERE’s HARP program, where he is developing his current production, Cannabis! A Theatrical Concert. Photo by Paula Court.

Meredith Broussard is an assistant professor at the Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute of New York University and the author of Artificial Unintelligence: How Computers Misunderstand the World. Her research focuses on artificial intelligence in investigative reporting, with a particular interest in using data analysis for social good. She is an affiliate faculty member at the Moore Sloan Data Science Environment at the NYU Center for Data Science, a 2019 Reynolds Journalism Institute Fellow, and her work has been supported by the Institute of Museum & Library Services as well as the Tow Center at Columbia Journalism School. A former features editor at the Philadelphia Inquirer, she has also worked as a software developer at AT&T Bell Labs and the MIT Media Lab. Her features and essays have appeared in The Atlantic, Slate, Vox, and other outlets. Follow her on Twitter @merbroussard or contact her via

Nick Hallett has been a collaborator of the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company since 2014.  His scores include all three evenings of the Analogy TrilogyA Letter to my Nephew, and Fishkill/Movements 1-45.  He is the recipient of a 2017 “Bessie” award for Best Revival, with Ishmael Houston-Jones and Miguel Gutierrez, for Variations on Themes from Lost & Found: Scenes from a Life and Other Works by John Bernd.  His first opera, Whispering Pines 10 (2010), a collaboration with artist Shana Moulton, was presented internationally and earned the duo a Creative Capital grant to be adapted for the internet. Since 2004, Hallett has been the co-director of New York’s Darmstadt series, celebrated for staging radical interpretations of music and performance from the avant-garde canon.  His work as music director and producer to multimedia artist Joshua White resulted in a decade-long re-emergence of the iconic Joshua Light Show. He is on the faculty of Eugene Lang College at the New School and the School for Visual Arts.

Patricia Marx is a staff writer for the New Yorker and a former writer for Saturday Night Live and Rugrats.  Her first book was How to Regain Your Virginity and her most recent book is Why Don’t You Write My Eulogy Now So I Can Correct It: A Mother’s Suggestions (illustrated by Roz Chast).   She was the first woman to be elected to the Harvard Lampoon and in 2015 received a Guggenheim Fellowship.  Her first children’s book, Now Everybody Really Hates Me, was the first and only winner of the Fredrich Medal, an award made up by Patty and named after her air conditioner.  She can take a baked potato out of the oven with her bare hand.

Ragamuffin is a drag artist and event producer living in Brooklyn, New York. They are the creator of Failure: A Queer Workshop, a showcase dedicated to celebrating queer artists through interdisciplinary performance and conversation. A graduate of Bard College, their work has been presented at Movement Research, Brooklyn Arts Exchange, New York Live Arts, Bushwig, and through partnership with the Doug Varone Dance Company at 92nd Street Y. In addition to hosting weekly shows in Brooklyn, they have performed both nationally and internationally with drag legend Thorgy Thor, and recently launched POZLUCK, a monthly potluck social for queer people living with HIV. Ragamuffin is a conduit for joyful debauchery and queer thought, political poet, social raccoon, and anything else you might want but don’t need. @ragamuffin_nyc