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Profs & Pints: Dreams of Intelligent Machines

January 6, 2019 @ 6:00 pm - 9:00 pm UTC+0

$2 – $12

Profs and Pints presents: “Dreams of Intelligent Machines,” with Colin Allen, philosopher of science and adjunct in the Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition at the University of Pittsburgh.

The existence of artificially intelligent machines raises a fundamental philosophical question that neither they nor we can easily answer: “What are we?”

Across many different cultures in every era, humans have tackled this question by comparing ourselves to the things that we see as most similar to us. They include real thing—various other animals—and imagined things, including angels, anthropomorphic gods, humanlike monsters, and, more recently, space aliens. Artificially intelligent machines are an interesting hybrid category: Once imaginary, yet increasingly a real part of our shared environment, they are particularly interesting because they are superhuman in some respects, but are clearly lacking in others. Our current robots have less emotional intelligence than dogs, but artificial intelligence can play chess at world-champion level.

What are we learning about ourselves from the attempt to create machines in our own image? What are the prospects and perils? Will these machines be ethical? Will they have feelings? Consciousness? (When, or why not?) Are they harbingers of a Golden Age of human self-fulfillment, or our future overlords in a technological dystopia? Is it up to us?

Gain an entirely new perspective on the machines and computer programs in your life from Professor Allen, whose research focuses on thephilosophical foundations of cognitive science and neuroscience, with a particular interest in the scientific study of cognition in nonhuman animals and computers. Just be careful not to tell Siri or Alexa where you’ve been. (Advance tickets: $12. Doors: $15, save $2 with a student ID. Posted time is door time. Talks start a half hour later. Please arrive early enough to give yourself plenty of time to get seated and settled.)

Advance tickets available at


January 6, 2019
6:00 pm - 9:00 pm UTC+0
$2 – $12
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The Bier Baron Tavern
1523 22nd Street Northwest
Washington, DC 20037 United States
202 293-1888
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