john_markoffJohn Markoff
Senior Journalist, The New York Times


THURSDAY, APRIL 14 @ 5:30p  |  UO PORTLAND, 70 NW Couch Street

John Markoff began writing about technology in 1976 and joined The Times in 1988. In 2013 he was part of the team awarded a Pulitzer Prize in explanatory reporting as part of a New York Times project on labor and automation. In 2007 John became a member of the International Media Council at the World Economic Forum, and he was named a fellow of the Society of Professional Journalists, the organization’s highest honor. He is the author of: Machines of Loving Grace: The Quest for Common Ground Between Humans and Robots (HarperCollins/The Ecco Press, 2015);  Waves of Democracy: Social Movements and Political Change (2nd ed., Sage, 2014); and What the Dormouse Said: How the Sixties Counterculture shaped the Personal Computer Industry (Viking Books, 2005). He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from Whitman College (1971) and an Master of Arts in Sociology from the University of Oregon in 1976.


From the back cover, 2015

“In recent years, the pace of technological change has accelerated dramatically, posing an ethical quandary. If humans delegate decisions to machines, who will be responsible for the consequences? As Markoff chronicles the history of automation, from the birth of the artificial intelligence and intelligence augmentation communities in the 1950s and 1960s, to the modern-day brain trusts at Google and Apple in Silicon Valley, and on to the expanding robotics economy around Boston, he traces the different ways developers have addressed this fundamental problem and urges them to carefully consider the consequences of their work. We are on the brink of the next stage of the computer revolution, Markoff argues, and robots will profoundly transform modern life. Yet it remains for us to determine whether this new world will be a utopia. Moreover, it is now incumbent upon the designers of these robots to draw a bright line between what is human and what is machine.”

About the Johnston Lecture

The Richard W. Johnston Memorial Project brings professionals to the school for campus lectures, workshops, and discussions with students, faculty members, and members of the community. It honors Dick Johnston, a gifted magazine editor, writer, and war correspondent who devoted himself to high-quality journalism. The project was made possible with generous gifts from his widow, Laurie; George E. Jones of U.S. News and World Report; and the Correspondents Fund.

Johnston, a 1936 graduate of the school, began his career as a news reporter during the Great Depression, working for the Eugene Register-Guard and the Eugene Daily News. He went to Portland with United Press and during WWII had a distinguished career as a correspondent in the Pacific theater. He is best known for founding and shaping Sports Illustrated, where he served as executive editor until his death in 1981 at the age of 66.