Wildly Successful Deep Humanities Event @ SJSU

Students, faculty, industry technologists were on hand for a day of rousing discussions, sometimes fiery discussions. During the noon break, 27 students presented a bevy of engaging ideas orbiting this idea of Deep Humanities. And Martin Ford concluded our day’s activities with an intriguing keynote at The Tech Museum of Innovation.

Student Reviews:

Standing on the Edge: A Review of the Deep Humanities Fiery Afternoon Panel” by Shelby Escott

Techkrieg Bop: Martin Ford @ SJSU” by Kyle Adona

Follow us on Twitter @frank200yrs for updates.

Watch our Upcoming Events page for more Deep Humanities conversations during Fall 2018 at San Jose State University.

Thank you to Dean Shannon Miller, Martin Luther King Library, Department of English & Comparative Literature for their support. Funds were provided by the Department of English & Comparative Literature and an Artistic Excellence Grant awarded by the College of Arts and Humanities. 

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Dean Miller’s Poignant Introduction

Two months ago, when we kicked off our first event here at SJSU to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the publication of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, I engaged the cover art of a weekly magazine which pictured Mark Zuckerberg standing over the “monster” he has created – a “Frankenstein” Facebook that he no longer knows how to control – as a perfect metaphor for a technology that has gotten out of one’s control.  image of zuckerberg and frankenstein creature

That was before a Uber car killed a woman in Tempe, Arizona, where a highly unregulated political environment drew Uber to beta-test self-driving cars. That was before Tesla had additional problems with the car’s autonomous mode. And it was before we found out that Cambridge Analytica hacked millions of Facebook users, prompting soul searching about privacy by Facebook’s users, and a congressional inquiry into Facebook’s practices. And this last week, the use of a public DNA site to help solve a terrifying cold case has reanimated these questions about privacy versus information. 200 years after Mary Shelley painted a complex portrait of how ethical responsibility must be embedded within the act of innovation, we have had almost weekly examples that underscore a main theme in her text.

This day exploring “Deep Humanities” is premised on the idea that the humanities and the arts have a powerful and increasingly important role to play in the world of STEM. 5.1_frankenstemv1Our “FrankenSTEM” poster playfully weaves these questions back into a novelist’s portrait that morphs into the horror genre (then morphs into camp); Shelley’s novel began as a reflection on the power, and the challenges, of technology. As such, it speaks to the power of the arts to imagine new possibilities and worlds, as well as new terrors – whether Mary Shelley’s portrait of Dr. Frankenstein’s creation, or the second season of Westworld, which imaginatively engages much of what the two panels today will interrogate: artificial intelligence, algorithimic bias, and ways that the practices of the humanities can engage, question, and ideally improve the technology that surrounds us in the Silicon Valley.   Our premise within “Deep Humanities” is that the humanities provide us a critical framework to evaluate our decision making practices, and ideally help us make better, more inclusive, and more ethical decisions around increasingly complex technologies that do not just fill our lives; they more and more are framing them.

Our day of panels and student presentations take up these issues, which seem more urgent than ever before, and more relevant than ever before here in the Silicon Valley. The College of Humanities and the Arts here at San Jose State is interrogating these issues through the liberal arts and the performing arts.

This discussion of AI is one of the many ways that we are taking up the theme of Frankenstein in a deep and engaged way at SJSU this Fall: see our list of Upcoming Events.


Deep Humanities panelists ranged from scholars to best-selling authors to artists to industry technologists. Take a look at their position papers:

Student Posters

Take a look at the FrankenStem Poster Session Program  for a list of all our student participants.

Congratulations to our Poster winners!

Best Overall Poster

Alexandra Galou, Lydia Row, Cristy Johnson, Jonathan Gill for the poster “From Frankenstein to Harmony”

From Frankenstein to Harmony - Alexandra Galou

Fan Favorite Poster

Shelby Escott for “Dehumanizing the Human Body”
poster - Shelby Escott

Honorable Mention Poster

Annie Hays, Barbara Huizar, Crista Johnson, Steven Le, Samantha Tate for the poster, “The Separate Spheres of Women and Science”
Women & Science Poster - Barbara Huizar-Hernandez

These posters represented a variety of topics about Frankenstein and/or the imposition of the digital on humanity. Take a look at some of the 27 posters that were offered.

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Keynote by Martin Ford

Martin Ford, after engaging in a boisterous afternoon panel, provided more insight into this idea of robots and the future of the workforce on “Disruptive Technology Do Robots Want Your Job?” @ The Tech Museum of Innovation


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