26 October 2023 - 29 October 2023
Aspen Seminar : Why People Still Matter
Real Maestranza de Caballería de Ronda

Aspen Seminar: Why People Still Matter


Aspen Institute España hosted the Aspen Seminar: Why People Still Matter at the Real Maestranza de Caballería de Ronda on October 26-29, 2023. The Seminar was moderated by Leigh Hafrey, Senior Lecturer at the MIT Sloan School of Management.

Aspen España Seminar: Why People Still Matter signals the leadership inflection point to which our technical innovations have brought us.  Even as a wide range of stakeholders call for guardrails, legislation, and self-regulation around generative AI, we continue collectively, perhaps too casually, down the path of new discovery.  This seminar invited participants to reflect on the sources of that apparent self-confidence:  beyond utility, why do we seem convinced of our inevitable survival as a species—arrogance, laziness, distraction, the historical record, or something else and more?  And can we lead one another and ourselves on terms that makes this exploration worth the inevitable risk?

In six sessions, they considered the evidence, from concerns about Artificial General Intelligence to a persistent faith in Human General Intelligence. Our thinkers, artists, and their work span the globe, from Mexico to Tonga via the U.S., Britain, Spain, the Vatican, Nigeria, Mykonos, Pakistan, China and, of course, cyberspace.  The syllabus blended fiction and philosophy, current events and cultural criticism, small-group testimonial and theatrical invention, systems thinking and live performance, algorithm and allegory.  The commonalties and differences among them and us measure the scope, in moderated discussion, of our three days together.

Presented with the evidence, we asked:  do we count on leadership to set humanity on the path to a viable relationship with its own creation; and if so, who other than each of us can supply that guidance? “AGI/HGI” invites you to share your views, your expertise, and your lived experience at a time when, as so often in the past, our ideas and practice of leadership are in promising flux.


Leigh Hafrey 

He  is a Senior Lecturer at the MIT Sloan School of Management. Since 1991, Hafrey has worked inprofessional ethics, with a focus on ethical leadership, teaching courses at Harvard Business School and MIT Sloan, and consulting with professional practitioners in the United States and abroad. At MIT Sloan, he teaches in theMBA program and Leaders for Global Operations, forwhich he moderates a mandatory two-year leadership course. He has also taughtin MIT’s Industrial Liaison, MIT-China Management Education, Master of Finance, Management of Technology, Nanyang Fellows, Sloan Fellows in Innovation andGlobal Leadership, Supply Chain Management, and System Design and Management programs. Since 1996, Hafrey has moderated the Aspen Institute’s Seminar in Leadership, Values, and the Good Society and other seminars sponsored by the Institute in the U.S. and abroad. From 1993 to 2010, togetherwith his wife, Sandra Naddaff, Hafrey was a co-Master of Mather House, one of the 12 residential complexes in Harvard College. The Mather community brings together400 undergraduates; 100 faculty, administrative, and alumni fellows; and dozens ofadvisory and other staff.  A former staff editor at The New York Times Book Review, Hafrey has published reporting, essays, reviews, interviews, and translations in TheNew York Times and other American and European periodicals. He serves on the editorial advisory board of Philosophy of Management (U.K.) and the Journal of Business Ethics Education (U.S.). His publications on business and management include a quarterly column for IPA’s Business Today (2007-09); cases and blogs forMIT Sloan; a book on how people use stories to articulate ethical norms, The Story of Success: Five Steps to Mastering Ethics in Business (2005); and War Stories:Fighting, Competing, Imagining, Leading, an essay on business alternatives to aculture of war in today’s America (2016) Hafrey holds an AB in English from Harvard College and a PhD in comparative literature from Yale University.


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