The Futures Lecture Series

A new lecture series showcasing pioneering interdisciplinary work across the sciences and humanities.

 The Futures Lecture series will feature high-profile guests who have redefined interdisciplinary research by making unexpected connections across fields and methodologies.

*We are delighted to continue the Futures lecture series in 2021-2022 with the following list of upcoming events organised and chaired by Professor Michela Massimi for EFI:*

Miriam Posner, 3 February 2022

Lecture Title: Seeing Like a Supply Chain

For most of us, supply chains are background noise to our real lives, but lately, product shortages and container-ship traffic jams have exposed a surprising range of vulnerabilities. How did we get here? How should we think this problem through? This talk explains how the world of supply-chain management came to look as it does, with special attention to the data and technology that undergird these circuits of commerce. Supply-chain experts may crave transparency, I argue, but the peculiar structure of these global circuits requires strategic gaps and omissions in our knowledge of them.


Miriam Posner is an assistant professor at the UCLA Department of Information Studies. She’s also a digital humanist with interests in labor, race, feminism, and the history and philosophy of data. As a digital humanist, she is particularly interested in the visualization of large bodies of data from cultural heritage institutions and the epistemological questions that arise from the conjunction of data and the humanities. She is at work on a book about how multinational corporations make use of data in their supply chains, under contract with Yale University Press.

Kyle Whyte, 24 February 2022

Lecture Title: Against Crisis Epistemology: Indigenous Climate Justice and the Anthropocene 

Research and policy on climate change and energy is very often put forward as science that addresses today’s global environmental crisis. There is moral and epistemic urgency to ask scientific questions and change policy. For diverse Indigenous peoples, the issues and solutions being studied have promises and perils for environmental justice. Climate and energy justice problems – as Indigenous peoples face and experience them – are rarely represented fairly in research or policy. Indigenous climate justice movements differ from crises oriented thinking. The presentation offers emerging theories of kinship and anti-colonial resistance as providing a critical basis for justice and futurity.


Kyle Whyte is George Willis Pack Professor of Environment and Sustainability at the University of Michigan, teaching in the environmental justice specialization. His research addresses environmental justice, focusing on moral and political issues concerning climate policy and Indigenous peoples, the ethics of cooperative relationships between Indigenous peoples and science organizations, and problems of Indigenous justice in public and academic discussions of food sovereignty, environmental justice, and the anthropocene. He is an enrolled member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation. Kyle currently serves on the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council, the Management Committee of the Michigan Environmental Justice Coalition, and the Board of Directors of the Pesticide Action Network North America. He has served as an author for the U.S. Global Change Research Program, including on the National Climate Assessment, and for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Working Group II. He is a former member of the Advisory Committee on Climate Change and Natural Resource Science in the U.S. Department of Interior and of two environmental justice work groups convened by past state governors of Michigan.

Peter-Paul Verbeek, 17 March 2022

Lecture Title: Disruptive Technologies and the Ethics of Technology

The impact of emerging technologies like artificial intelligence, genome editing, and climate engineering is so profound, that it should be considered disruptive. Such technologies do not only affact societies but also ethics itself, by challenging the very concepts and frameworks with which we can evaluate them. What do’ agency’, ‘responsibility’ and ‘empathy’ mean in relation to artificial agents? What does ‘democratic representation’ mean in relation to the impact of climate engineering on future generations and ecosystems? What can the notion of ‘the humane’ mean when genome editing leads to human-animal hybrids? This lecture will explore what ethical disruption means for the ethics of technology and for responsible innovation.


Peter-Paul Verbeek (1970) is distinguished professor of Philosophy of Technology and scientific co-director of the DesignLab at the University of Twente, The Netherlands. He is honorary professor of Techno-Anthropology at Aalborg University (Denmark) and chair of the UNESCO World Commission for the Ethics of Science and Technology. Currently, he is one of the 6 Principal Investigators of a 10-year research program on the Ethics of Socially Disruptive Technologies. His book publications include Postphenomenological Investigations: Essays on Human-Technology Relations (2015, with Robert Rosenberger), The Moral Status of Technical Artefacts (2014, with Peter Kroes), Moralizing Technology: Understanding and Designing the Morality of Things (2011) and What Things Do: Philosophical Reflections on Technology, Agency, and Design (2005). Website:

Karen Yeung, Thursday 5 May 2022

Lecture Title: Dispelling the Digital Enchantment

In this lecture, I sketch the content and contours of a deliberately over-simplified contemporary fairytale which I refer to as the ‘Digital Enchantment’.  It is comprised of three core tenets: digital solutionism, the absence of ill-effects doctrine, and the celebration of unfettered innovation as one of the noblest and highest callings of this present age.  I will seek to unpack this fairytale to demonstrate its enduring, universal appeal, while highlighting the dangers of falling under its spell due to a continued failure to separate fantasy from reality.  I argue that the challenge that we urgently face in navigating sweeping on-going digital transformation is to develop means for drawing on the power of the Enchantment’s appeal in ways that enable us to proceed in a more careful, deliberative and clear-eyed fashion in order to reap the best of human creativity that lies at the heart of innovation in the service of flourishing human communities.


Karen Yeung is Interdisciplinary Professorial Fellow in Law, Ethics and Informatics at the University of Birmingham in the School of Law and the School of Computer Science, having held previous appointments at King’s College London and Oxford University.  Her research expertise lies in  the regulation and governance of, and through, new and emerging technologies, with her more recent and on-going work focusing on the legal, ethical, social and democratic implications of a suite of technologies associated with automation and the ‘computational turn’, including big data analytics, artificial intelligence (including various forms of machine learning), distributed ledger technologies (including blockchain) and robotics.  Her work has been at the forefront of understanding the challenges associated with the regulation and governance of emerging technologies and she has been actively involved in several technology policy and related initiatives at the national, European and international levels including the Nuffield Council of Bioethics, the EU High Level Expert Group on AI, the Council of Europe and the UN.    Her academic publications include Algorithmic Regulation (co-edited with Martin Lodge) Oxford University Press (2019) and TheOxford Handbook of Law, Regulation and Technology (co-edited with Roger Brownsword and Eloise Scotford) in 2017.    She is on the editorial boards of the Modern Law Review, Big Data & SocietyPublic Law and Technology and Regulation and the Journal of Cross-disciplinary Research in Computational Law.


Full details of the programme, including Eventbrite links, will be announced in due course.

Past Futures Lecture series events:

Professor Lea Ypi

Professor Justin E. H. Smith

Professor Dame Athene Donald

Professor Frank Pasquale

Professor Adam Habib

Professor Tom McLeish

Professor Rosi Braidotti

Upcoming Futures Lecture Series Events