Two-Day Conference, Nov. 5 & 6

Free and Open to the Public, Everyone Welcome

What is Dawn or Doom?


Celebrating its fifth year, Dawn or Doom explores the effects of rapidly emerging technologies, such as artificial intelligence and genetic engineering, by bringing together leading national experts and stars from Purdue’s large constellation of researchers to kick-start conversations about potential risks and rewards.

The conference on Purdue’s West Lafayette, Ind., campus Nov. 5 and 6, 2018, is free and open to the public and is designed for attendees to take in as many talks as fit their schedules. This year’s conference focuses on how emerging technologies promise to change our bodies and minds, our interactions with machines and the universe, and the central role of data in all of this.

Since it began in 2014, Dawn or Doom has annually brought together experts on topics ranging from surveillance drones and living on Mars to genetically modified foods and genetically personalized medicine. The two-day conference now attracts over 6,000 people who interact with speakers in weighing questions like: What’s the future of work if AIs and robots can do it all for us? Is the internet affecting my mental health? Who decides whether a development represents dawn or doom (or a bit of both)?



Why Dawn or Doom?


Characterized by Purdue President Mitch Daniels as the perfect place for a conference like Dawn or Doom, Purdue University is a top public research institution committed to pursuing scientific discoveries, engineered solutions and creative use of technology driven by faculty and student innovators who have a vision for moving the world forward. Dawn or Doom intentionally presents diverse viewpoints, with not only engineers and computer scientists presenting, but also writers, philosophers, business leaders and policy experts. The goal is a thoughtful, fact-based discussion of the potential risks and rewards posed by emerging technologies.


Jaron Lanier

Known as the father of virtual reality this scientist, technologist, author, artist and musician was named one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time.  As a Purdue Ideas Festival speaker, Lanier will discuss how artificial intelligence would work better and make more sense if we stopped anthropomorphizing it. (photo credit: Doug Menuez)


Nicholas Carr

Author and Pulitzer Prize finalist for “The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains.” Carr will discuss how the Internet has changed the way we read and process information, and why some of us can’t finish a chapter without checking our phones.   


Naomi Grewal

Global head of Insights at Pinterest. Grewal’s team focuses on helping advertisers understand the value of Pinterest by using data to understand users across audiences, verticals, events and search behavior.


Frank Pasquale

Law professor and expert on the law of artificial intelligence, algorithms and machine learning. Pasquale’s work focuses on issues that rapidly changing technology pose in the law.


Thomas Frey

Futurist, author and founder of the DaVinci Institute. Frey will discuss the future of education and the potential opportunities that lie ahead.


Jennifer Lyons

Data designer and speaker at Evergreen Data. Lyons' work focuses on bringing research-based transformations to a range of deliverables including charts, slides, reports, infographics and dashboards.

Concurrent Events and Tracks


To purchase a lunch, go to this link: click here. The deadline to purchase is Nov. 1, 2018 by 11a.m.

This panel discussion will focus on workforce development, training and retraining, with Blair Milo, secretary of career connections and talent for the State of Indiana, whose goal is to create a million new jobs in Indiana, and John Dennis, mayor of West Lafayette, and Tony Roswarski, mayor of Lafayette, who are working to keep the Greater Lafayette Area thriving in business and job creation. Moderated by Emilie Syberg from WBAA.

Exhibit from artist Bjoern Scheulke, whose work deals with cameras, drones, surveillance and robotics.

The "Design Good Now" Worldwide Challenge's goal is to redesign objects, products, and environments for people with disabilities to make them more accessible and approachable for the everyday use in their life. 

Purdue Graduate Student Government and Dawn or Doom present the second Student Research Poster Session. Students of all levels and backgrounds are invited to present their research or projects to be judged during Dawn or Doom ‘18.  Deadline to register is October 29th at 5 p.m.

Poster Session Poster 

Poster Session Information


Immerse yourself in the future at Purdue’s Envision Center and try virtual reality technologies that could become as common as the cell phone is today. 

Demos will be given during the Dawn or Doom conference.

  • Monday, November 5, 2018 - 1:00 pm - 5:00 pm
  • Tuesday, November 6, 2018 - 10:--am - 5:00 pm

Presentations and demo tours can be scheduled for groups. Please contact Diana Hancock at or Laura Theademan at

Dawn or Doom ’18 hosted its fifth student writing contest.  Students who entered attended one or more presentations at Dawn or Doom ’18 (Nov 5-6) and wrote a journalistic nonfiction piece related to a presentation. Learn more here.

2018 Dawn or Doom Writing Contest Winners

Grand Prize

Prasanna Janakiraman "Government as God"

“This was a well-written, thoughtful and effectively structured piece. The author explored many facets of the issue and went deep on one of the most profound potential consequences of AI. One suggestion: The impact of the AI-driven social credit system in China could be mentioned in the first graf to draw the reader into why this matters -- for individuals, Chinese society and the world.” 

Alison Snyder, managing editor, Axios

“I can’t tell whether Prasanna’s take on social credit systems would have helped me or buried me in high school. I really don’t want to know. Just when I was finally getting a decent night’s sleep after ‘Dawn or Doom’ …”

Dave Bangert, columnist, Lafayette Journal & Courier

Second Place

Sarah Merryman "Pinterest: Too User Centric?"

“Sarah presents a well-researched piece on the customer-service experience at Pinterest and how it fares compared to other platforms that are constantly demanding our attention, a resource that Sarah rightfully points out are increasingly scarce in modern times. Sarah includes in her assessment a necessary dose of skepticism about the general use of customer data by companies.”  

Marina Koren, science writer, The Atlantic

“This piece was well-written and detailed in its analysis of the subject. It would have benefitted from more about the potential negative consequences of hyper-customized/personalized tech in order to support the author's conclusion. A discussion of consumer privacy — and why it is important and how it is being debated — beyond Pinterest may have also added to the author's analysis and gave the piece a broader appeal.”  

Alison Snyder, managing editor, Axios

Third Place

Jhananthi Janakiraman "AI Will Do as AI Pleases"

“Jhananthi opens the piece with a clever callback to the kinds of depictions of artificial intelligence that much of the general public still relies on, even as the technology, as Jhananthi points out, already operates in the platforms that manage our daily lives. Jhananthi offers a particularly clever description of AI as a growing and learning child, a straightforward and accurate comparison among a sea of fear-mongering descriptions.”

Marina Koren, science writer, The Atlantic

Dawn or Doom, the Purdue English Department and West Lafayette Public Library present the second annual “Big Read,” a celebration designed to link Purdue and Greater Lafayette readers.

This year’s book is “The Underground Railroad” written by Colson Whitehead. 

For more information, go to the Big Read website.  

Cisco will demonstrate machine learning and artificial intelligence as it relates to a busy intersection.  Attendees will see how Cisco determines risk based on speed and distance by identifying each car, motorcycle and person on the road. A senior engineer who helped create the solution will be onsite to answer questions and discuss the back-end engineering.

Check back to see where you can find this demonstration during Dawn or Doom.

Dawn or Doom is partnering with student organizations on campus to host its first Expo on Tuesday, November 6th from 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.

Check back for more information.

Krannert School of Management's Business Information Center (BIAC) and Dawn or Doom joined together to offer a unique opportunity for Purdue's full time undergraduate and master's students to work on a real-world data analytics problem.

The 2018 Data Dive was held in April.  Read about the winning teams and the problem they had to solve from the data set Cisco provided here

Purdue Student Engineering Foundation presents the Engineering Expo as outreach to High School students interested in Engineering at Purdue University. This year's design challenge will be focused on disaster relief engineering. The expo will be held April 12, 2018.

Discussion Tracks

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