Mack Lecture: Conversation with Annie Dorsen
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Mack Lecture: Conversation with Annie Dorsen

Writer/director Annie Dorsen aims “to make perceptible how ideas change over time: where they come from, how they influence and are influenced by politics and culture, and how they take root in the body, physically and emotionally.” Join this MacArthur Fellow as she discusses her practice that is rooted in artificial intelligence. Discover how she explores the intersection of algorithms and live performance with academic and AI researcher, Zachary Chase Lipton. This conversation will be moderated by Simon Adler, a producer on WNYC’s Radiolab.

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About the Speakers

Annie Dorsen is an acclaimed writer and theatre director. Her most recent project, Infinite Sun (2019), is an algorithmic sound installation commissioned by the Sharjah Biennial 14. She has collaborated frequently with musicians and choreographers, including Anne Juren, Ethel, Questlove/The Roots, DD Dorvillier, and Sébastien Roux. She is the co-creator and director of the 2008 Broadway musical Passing Strange. In addition to awards for Passing Strange, Dorsen received a 2019 MacArthur Fellowship, a 2018 Guggenheim Fellowship, the 2018 Spalding Gray Award, a 2016 Foundation for Contemporary Arts Grant to Artists Award, and the 2014 Herb Alpert Award for the Arts in Theatre.

Zachary Chase Lipton is the BP Junior Chair Assistant Professor of Operations Research and Machine Learning at Carnegie Mellon University and a Visiting Scientist at Amazon AI. His research spans core machine learning methods and their social impact and addresses diverse application areas, including clinical medicine and natural language processing. Current research focuses include robustness under distribution shift, breast cancer screening, the effective and equitable allocation of organs, and the intersection of causal thinking and the messy high-dimensional data that characterizes modern deep learning applications. He is the founder of the Approximately Correct blog ( and a co-author of Dive Into Deep Learning, an interactive open-source book drafted entirely through Jupyter notebooks. Find on Twitter (@zacharylipton) or GitHub (@zackchase).

Simon Adler is a reporter and producer with WNYC’s Peabody Award winning podcast Radiolab. He’s reported stories from four continents – on topics ranging from professional wrestling to Caribbean raccoons – with a particular focus on the intersection of technology and authenticity.

About the Mack Lecture Series

Since its inception, the Walker has hosted talks by artists, writers, and other great thinkers whose insights and ideas have informed our world. The Mack Lecture series explores our culture and contemporary moment through inspiring conversations and lectures aimed to deepen our understanding and appreciation of the great thought leaders of our time. This series will be hosted twice per academic semester.

  • The Mack Lecture Series is made possible with the generous support of Aaron and Carol Mack.