Selmer Bringsjord + Naveen Sundar G

To Infinity and Beyond!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Computing machines are getting smarter, attempting to reach levels of human-like intelligence. But even with the recent exploits of artificial intelligence systems like Jeopardy! champion Watson, these accomplishments can’t compare to the complexities of the human mind.

Rensselaer professor Selmer Bringsjord and PhD student Naveen Sundar G. boldly go where no machine has gone before, or ever will. In their discussion, they will visit number lines that start with quantities larger than any finite number; sequences that grow faster than the speed of light; and reasoning, powered by infinitely long proofs, which allow us to surmount Gödel’s famous negative theorems about the incompleteness of mathematics.

Along the way, Bringsjord and Sundar explain that the infinite, when accessed by humans, calls into question three historic claims: that all of mathematical cognition is reducible to simple problem-solving carried out by dogs and monkeys (Darwin); that mathematics is just a humdrum human construction rooted in bodily motion and metaphor (Lakoff); and that artificial intelligence will soon explode beyond human intelligence in an event venerated as “the singularity” (Kurzweil).

Everyone is welcome. No special background or knowledge is needed; simply bring something machines don’t have: imagination.

This research was made possible by a generous grant from the John Templeton Foundation.

The Detail View series provides a platform for Rensselaer professors and researchers to share in-depth perspectives on their fields of inquiry. Inviting an exchange of ideas on campus and providing a window into a singular vision, these events are geared toward experts and non-experts alike.

Emily Berçir Zimmerman

Selmer Bringsjord specializes in the logico-mathematical and philosophical foundations of artificial intelligence (AI) and cognitive science, and in collaboratively building AI systems on the basis of computational logic. Though he spends considerable “engineering” time in pursuit of ever-smarter computing machines, his “armchair” reasoning time has enabled him to deduce that the human mind will forever be superior to such machines.

Bringsjord received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania, and a PhD from Brown University, where he studied under Roderick Chisholm. He is a long-time faculty member at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI), and currently holds appointments in the Department of Cognitive Science, the Department of Computer Science, and the Lally School of Management & Technology. He teaches AI, formal logic, human and machine reasoning, philosophy of AI, other topics relating to formal logic, and the intellectual history of New York City and the Hudson Valley.

Dr. Bringsjord is the author of many books, papers, and essays ranging from the mathematical to the informal, and covering such areas as AI, logic, gaming, philosophy of mind, philosophy of religion, robotics, and ethics—and he has of late begun to move into the area of computational economics, for which he has invented a new paradigm based (unsurprisingly) on formal logic.

Naveen Sundar G. is an International Fulbright Science and Technology scholar pursuing his PhD in computer science at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in the Rensselaer Artificial Intelligence and Reasoning Laboratory (RAIR Lab). His research focuses on formal computer science and AI. Sundar G.’s research in syntax and consciousness continues work in building cognitively robust synthetic characters at the RAIR Lab through formal modeling of self-consciousness in synthetic characters and the building of characters that are able to pass the mirror test for self-consciousness. His PhD research overlaps with a project funded by the Templeton Foundation entitled Toward a Markedly Better Geography of Minds, Machines, and Math. The objective of this project is to study and advance the mathematical frontiers of AI research, and revolves around using general-purpose reasoning via formal logic to model areas ranging from cognition and language to automated verification in science and engineering. The latter has produced the first un-computable game, the Robot Devolution game, which can enable crowd-sourced solving of truly difficult problems.

Sundar G. holds a dual degree in physics and electronics from BITS-Pilani. His prior experience includes research at Hewlett Packard Labs, the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, and the Indian Space Research Organization.

Selmer Bringsjord + Naveen Sundar G
October 11, 2012, 12PM
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EMPAC 2012-2013 presentations, residencies, and commissions are made possible by continuous support from the Jaffe Fund for Experimental Media and Performing Arts. Additional project support by the National Endowment for the Arts; the National Dance Project of the New England Foundation for the Arts with lead funding from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation; the New York State Council for the Arts; Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation with support from the National Endowment for the Arts; Arts Council Norway, Fond for Lyd og Bilde, and Fond for Utøvende Kunstner.

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