“Humans, Data and Machines” was the 2018 theme of the annual public lecture series put on by the University of Arizona College of Science. As in past years, the ASA is sponsoring encore presentations of the talks for those who missed the original lectures.

The idea of computation and algorithms is old, but modern day computers are a relatively new phenomenon. Even more recent are the notions of artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML) and big data.  While it is difficult to clearly define AI and ML, it is evident that progress in these fields, combined with access to large datasets, has a significant impact on all aspects of our lives.

This raises new mathematical and engineering challenges – can we solve previously unsolvable problems? It also asks philosophical questions – can machines think? It also forces us to consider ethics and law – can machines be more objective than humans?

In this first encore presentation of “Humans, Data and Machines,” the 2018 University of Arizona College of Science public lecture series, Stephen Kobourov will set the stage for exploring these questions by presenting the basics of how machines process information.

Kobourov’s live encore presentation, entitled  is set to begin at 3:30 p.m. Friday (April 27) in the ASA Great Room.

The speaker, a UA computer science professor, will discuss some of the questions that challenge scientists and engineers as they refine the way humans deal with artificial intelligence and machine learning:  Is it possible to formulate sequences of instructions — algorithms — that allow machines to operate in ways that are indistinguishable from ways that human beings operate? Can machines learn to solve problems and understand the world around them by themselves?

Stephen Kobourov

UA President Robert C. Robbins and Joaquin Ruiz, dean of the College of Science, welcomed the capacity Centennial Hall crowd to the free series. “I’ve been hearing about this series since I arrived in May,” Robbins told the audience. “People have been telling me that the three biggest things in Tucson are the Festival of Books, the Gem and Mineral Show and this series.”

Written by Ivar Sanders, Academy Village Volunteer

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April 27: How Thinking Machines are Impacting Our Lives