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NYU Reads

A selection of resources for engaging with the NYU Reads books.

Technology, the Environment, Health, and (In)Justice

Klara and the Sun resonates with our world centering on technology and the ongoing development of artificial intelligence, often at the expense of the environment and most of the world's well-being.  As a result, the story brings to light varying  sub-themes and questions: what are the ethics of artificial technology development?


Artificial Intelligence, Technology & Ethics

In this essay, the author explores an understanding of the potential moral agency of robots, arguing that the key characteristics of physical embodiment, adaptive learning, empathy in action, and a teleology toward the good are the primary necessary components for a machine to become a moral agent.

Companies operating internet platforms are developing artificial intelligence tools for content moderation purposes. This paper discusses technologies developed to measure the 'toxicity' of text-based content. The research builds upon queer linguistic studies that have indicated the use of 'mock impoliteness' as a form of interaction employed by LGBTQ people to cope with hostility. Automated analyses that disregard such a pro-social function may, contrary to their intended design, actually reinforce harmful biases.

This paper addresses the question of the morality of technology.

This NYT article addresses the current state of A.I., and discusses respective risks. 

*Note: NYU students receive free access to the NYT and WSJ

Chronic Illness & Health

People living in rural and remote communities commonly experience significant health disadvantages. Geographical barriers and reduced specialist and generalist services impact access to care when compared with metropolitan context. Innovative models of care have been developed for people living with chronic diseases in rural areas with the goal of overcoming these inequities. The aim of this paper was to describe the characteristics and outcomes of studies investigating innovative models of care for people living with chronic disease in rural areas of developed countries where a metropolitan comparator was included.

Adolescent and young adults (AYAs) with chronic illnesses cope with complex issues that require unique psychological support and healthcare services to reduce psychosocial difficulties, improve disease management, and facilitate positive transitions to adult care. Engaging patients and caregivers can help providers understand the specific needs of this population and identify the perceived areas of support. The purpose of this quality improvement initiative is to assess the needs of AYAs with chronic medical conditions at a large government research hospital

Indigenous Land and Environmental Justice

This is a section from last year's NYU Reads title, Braiding Sweetgrass, lists resources on settler colonialism.

Settler colonialism is a form of domination that violently disrupts human relationships with the environment. Settler colonialism is ecological domination, committing environmental injustice against Indigenous peoples and other groups. Focusing on the context of Indigenous peoples' facing US domination, this article investigates philosophically one dimension of how settler colonialism commits environmental injustice





  • Artificial Intelligence (2001) - Feature Film, A robot boy designed to feel love songs to become human embarks on a soulful journey after being forsaken by his inventor. Befriended by a pleasure cyborg and a talking "super toy" bear, the artificial boy flees a city where robots must fight for the amusement of humans and ends up in a submerged New York City where the secrets of his creation are finally revealed. 
  • Artificial Intelligence (2015) - Documentary, Trace the evolution of artificial intelligence (AI) from simple calculating machines to computers that can vanquish chess masters. Learn the distinction between weak AI, such as a chess playing machine, and a strong AI, which is a machine that has a truly human-like mind. 
  • Blade Runner The Final Cut (1982) - Feature film, Harrison Ford stars in this fascinating, dark vision of the near future as a policeman who tracks down engineered humans--a Blade Runner. The Police department forces Rick Deckard (Ford) out of retirement to hunt four genetically engineered humans who have come to Earth. Designed to do difficult, hazardous work, the manufactured humans are stronger, faster, and smarter than non-engineered humans...and they are killing people. Deckard must stop them before they kill again. 
  • Blade Runner 2049 (2017) - Feature film, Thirty years after the events of the first film, a new blade runner, LAPD Officer K, unearths a long buried secret that has the potential to plunge what's left of society into chaos. K's discovery leads him on a quest to find Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford) a former LAPD blader unner who has been missing for thirty years. 
  • Environmentalism in Science Fiction (2016) - Documentary, Revisiting the idea that science fiction often deals directly with the consequences of human actions, whether through robots who take over the world massive storms produced by climate change. Starting with a common theme in many science fiction novels, Professor Wolfe walks through works that feature, and often correctly predicted, environmental concerns and ramifications.
  • Ex Machina (2014) - Feature film, A young programmer is selected to participate in breakthrough experiments in artificial intelligence by evaluating the human qualities of a breakthrough female A.I. 
  • The Future of Work and Death: The Impact of Technological Advances on Human Life (2015) - Documentary, The Future of Work looks at the shocking exponential rate at which mankind has managed to create technologies to ease the process of living. As we embark on the next phase of our adaptation, with automation and artificial intelligence signifying the complete move from man to machine, this film asks what the implications are for human purposeful fulfillment, making money and ageless immortality. In its combination of archival footage, infographics, and interviews, directors Sean Blacknell and Wayne Walsh's debut feature gives us a provoking and shockingly realistic look into the future of human life. 
  • I'm Your Man (2021) - Feature film, A scientist coerced into participating in an extraordinary study in order to obtain research funds for her work. For three weeks, she has to live with a humanoid robot tailored to her character and needs, whose artificial intelligence is designed to be the perfect life partner for her. Enter Tom, a mancine in human form in a class of its own, created solely to make her happy. A humorous tale about the questions of love, longing, and what makes a human being human.
  • Machine (2019) - A documentary about artificial intelligence, the most radical and new technology of our time. 
  • Transcendence (2014) - An AI expert's consciousness is transferred into a computer after he is killed by a radical anti-technology faction. As his awareness goes viral, he becomes an unstoppable force inhabiting every computer and electrical system on the planet. 
  • Transcendence and the Dangers of AI (2018) - Documentary, Science fiction has always been fascinated by the possibilities of artificial intelligence, with many storytellers focusing on the dangers of sentient machines. But human predictions of the future are often inaccurate. This documentary explores both for and against the creation of AI through the film Transcendence, as well as other iconic stories.  
  • Westworld (1973) - Feature film, Thriller set in a futuristic theme park where robots fulfill tourists' every fantasy. 
  • Westworld and AI Intelligence (2018) - Documentary, Sentient machines have been a staple of sci-fi for decades. This documentary focuses on a few key stories, and takes a look at the long history of intelligent machines in film and TV and glimpses into a very possible future. Machines can calculate but could they one day be sentient? 


Additional Resources

Reflections on Intersections

  • Solid purple circle with white question mark in the middle, projecting a shadow within circle.In what ways are health/chronic illness, technology and the environment related to each other?
  • Which communities pay the price for resource extraction used to "further" technology? 
  • What are just ideas and applications of technology?