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Futurist Peter Leyden to speak at Purdue about AI - Lecture is latest in series about corporate ethics

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Artificial Intelligence, with all of its power and peril, is the topic of this year’s talk in the Purdue Series on Corporate Citizenship and Ethics. The series, which began in 2003, is a collaboration between the James F. Ackerman Center for Democratic Citizenship in Purdue’s College of Education and the Mitchell E. Daniels, Jr. School of Business.

Peter LeydenPeter Leyden (pronounced LIED-in), futurist, tech expert, and former managing editor of WIRED magazine, will present “The AI Age Begins: Real Implications, Positive Possibilities & Actual Risks” at 7 p.m. on April 18 at Stewart Center’s Loeb Playhouse. The talk is free and open to the public, and tickets are not required.

Leyden will discuss the power of AI to boost productivity and economic growth, as well as its ability to transform fields from education to healthcare. With an approach that’s both realistic and optimistic, he’ll also address how misuse of the tools could bring catastrophic risks.

A serial entrepreneur, Leyden founded the strategic firm Reinvent Futures, which tracks trends from science to economics and demographics to geopolitics. He also hosts The Great Progression series of events in San Francisco, convening leading tech and innovation experts to explore key questions surrounding Generative AI. He has written two big-idea books about the future—The Long Boom and What’s Next.

Leyden is the 35th speaker in the Purdue Series on Corporate Citizenship and Ethics. Phillip J. VanFossen, interim College of Education dean and director of the Ackerman Center, was approached by Jim Ackerman in the early 2000s about starting an ethics-based speaker series. At the same time, then-business school dean Rick Cosier was receiving questions about what his school would do to counteract negative publicity about the business community being generated by scandals at Enron and WorldCom, among others.

“The stars aligned, and we decided to join forces to present a series that could put a lens on various aspects of business ethics and the role citizens can play in corporate ethics,” VanFossen says. “It’s important for our students to understand the ramifications of bad behavior. They also should understand the importance of citizens holding businesses responsible for their actions.”

The first speaker in the series was former U.S. Attorney General Dick Thornburgh. Other participants include Jerry Greenfield, co-founder of Ben & Jerry’s; Lech Walesa, former president of Poland and Nobel Laureate; documentary filmmaker Ken Burns; and Marie Yovanovitch, former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine. A full list can be found here.