Thinking Machines

machanical turk
Join speakers Dr. Fiona Coll, SUNY Oswego (English) and Dr. Bruce Pitman, University of Buffalo (Mathematics) for a lecture linking Arts and Math, titled “Thinking Machines.” According to the description, “This lecture will consider how our conceptions of thinking machines have evolved over the past 200 years and what issues may arise in the future.”

Thinking Machines
In the nineteenth century, mathematician Charles Babbage designed a programmable calculating machine that could execute algorithms with an accuracy and speed surpassing human abilities. Though Babbage’s mechanical computer remained unbuilt during his lifetime, his interest in developing machine intelligence anticipated twenty-first-century concerns about the promises, limitations, uses, and misuses of machine-generated data. This lecture will consider how our conceptions of thinking machines have evolved over the past 200 years and what issues may arise in the future. What does it mean to imagine machines “thinking”? What avenues are made available to us by the power of machine mathematics? And in what ways do calculating machines challenge our sense that human cognition is an exceptional phenomenon?

Friday, November 27, 2015 at 7:30 p.m. Siegfried Hall, St. Jerome’s University, University of Waterloo


Fiona Coll, Department of English and Creative Writing, SUNY Oswego

Fiona Coll is an Assistant Professor of Literature and Technology at SUNY Oswego. Her work explores the mutual constitution of machine intelligence and human agency in the new mechanical age of the nineteenth century. She is working on a book project about the appearance and function of the automation in nineteenth-century fictional, scientific, and political writing. Her writing can be found in Victorian Review, University of Toronto Quarterly, and at The Floating Academy.

Bruce Pitman, Dean, College of Arts and Sciences, University at Buffalo
Bruce Pitman holds a bachelor’s degree in physics and mathematics from Northwestern University and earned a Ph.D. in mathematics from Duke University in 1985. His work at UB is marked by academic research and development of new and innovative graudate and undergraduate programs. He is the author or co-author of more than 70 papers and has been principal investigator or co-investigator on more than $10 million in research and equipment awards. He has conducted research in mathematical biology and in the field of granular materials; his recent work involves the modeling, computation and analysis of geophysical mass flows.

Moderator: Mario Coniglio, Associate Vice President, Academic, University of Waterloo

Note: The Campus Renewal Project is currently underway at St. Jerome’s University; therefore, parking is not available at St. Jerome’s.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s