“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.

We are inundated daily with news about artificial intelligence (AI) achieving tremendous results—defeating human champions at Go, driving better than we do, etc. But does this mean we are approaching the technical singularity where artificial intelligence far surpasses the human one? Does this mean machines truly think?

In this second encore presentation of “Humans, Data and Machines,” the 2018 University of Arizona College of Science public lecture series, Mihai Surdeanu will analyze these questions in a live lecture set to begin at 3:30 p.m. Thursday (May 3) in the ASA Great Room.

Surdeanu’s talk, entitled “The Minds of Machines,” will illustrate that AI does not think the way we think: machines do not have a good way to represent and reason with world knowledge, and, of course, they are not self-aware. Instead, AI is designed to automate and scale up pattern recognition for specific tasks. 

Because of this different goal, AI does perform better than humans at certain tasks. Surdeanu will review a series of problems where AI outperforms humans, including specific applications of natural language understanding, precision medicine, and other problems, many of which were implemented at the UA.

Mihai Surdeanu

Surdeanu is an associate professor in computer science and a member of the Cognitive Science Graduate Interdisciplinary Program, a UA group whose goal is to determine the nature of human intelligence and define what is required of a physical system to produce behaviors ordinarily deemed “intelligent”.

He has 15-plus years of experience in building systems driven by natural language processing (NLP) and machine learning (ML). His work has been funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence.

Written by Charles Prewitt and Mike Maharry, Academy Village Volunteers

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May 3: Does Artificial Intelligence Equal Thinking?