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What does it mean to be human? Ghosts and Machines

Wycliffe College, University of Toronto

Friday, January 25, 2019 from 7:00 PM to 10:00 PM (EST)

What does it mean to be human? Ghosts and Machines

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Ticket Type Sales End Price Fee Quantity
General Admission Jan 25, 2019 CA$15.00 CA$1.93
Student Jan 25, 2019 CA$10.00 CA$1.62

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Join our Religion and Society Series dialogue as Drs. Geordie Rose, Julien Musolino and Michael Murray discuss what it means to be human. We will explore nuances of this question as it engages advances in artificial intelligence, cognitive science, and philosophy. 
 
 
 
 
What does it mean to be human? J. Wentzel van Huysteen, in his Gifford lectures, posed the question of whether or not we are “alone in the world?” With advances in artificial intelligence and increasing knowledge in the cognitive sciences, the lines that have traditionally defined human uniqueness are beginning to blur. What constitutes our humanity—that intrinsic notion that separates us from other animals and machines, the essence that demonstrates we are more than the sum of our biological existence—is becoming less and less clear. In a sense, we may be witnessing the collapse of Cartesian dualism, the idea of the human being having a spirit or soul that is separate from their physical body, or what philosopher Gibert Ryle has referred to the dogma of the “the ghost in the machine.” Is there more, however? Can religious notions of the soul, mind, and body navigate these new advances in science and technology and even provide meaning and value to them, or will religious notions become obsolete? Are there limits to what AI can achieve, and limits to how science can speak to our humanity? David Bentley Hart has said that “rational thought—understanding, intention, will, consciousness—is not a species of computation.” Is there a line that, no matter the advances in technology or the passing of evolutionary time, no computer or animal will ever cross? Is it our ability to transcend our biology, to somehow rise above the fetters of our bodily existence and instincts that truly makes us human? Will machines one day rise above their programming? What it means to be human is one of the most important and pressing questions of our day; as we learn more about our world and ourselves, the answer to this question is becoming ever more complex.
 
 
As a founder and the CTO of D-Wave, Geordie Rose was known as a leading advocate for quantum computing and physics-based processor design, and has been invited to speak on these topics in venues ranging from TED to NIPS. After his success with D-Wave, Dr. Rose went on to co-found two Artificial Intelligence companies, Kindred AI and Sanctuary AI. The goal of which is to create Artificial General Intelligence, human-like intelligence in machines. His innovative and ambitious approach to building quantum computing technology has received coverage in MIT Technology Review magazine, The Economist, New Scientist, Scientific American, Nature and Science magazines, and one of his business strategies was profiled in a Harvard Business School case study. He has received several awards and accolades for his work with D-Wave, including winning the 2011 Canadian Innovation Exchange’s Innovator of the Year award. Dr. Rose holds a PhD in theoretical physics from the University of British Columbia, specializing in quantum effects in materials. While at McMaster University, he graduated first in his class with a BEng in Engineering Physics, specializing in semiconductor engineering. He was captain of the 1993 National Champion McMaster wrestling team, a four time academic All-Canadian, and is a member of the McMaster sports Hall of Fame.
 
 
Michael Murray is Senior Vice President at the John Templeton Foundation. In that capacity he oversees the Foundations grant making in the natural sciences, philosophy, theology, and public engagement. In addition he manages the departments of Communications and Strategic Alliances. He is also Senior Visiting Scholar in Philosophy at Franklin and Marshall College (Lancaster, PA). In addition to a variety of articles in the history of philosophy and the philosophy of religion, he has recently authored or edited Philosophy of Religion (Cambridge, with Michael Rea) and Nature Red in Tooth and Claw: Theism and the Problem of Animal Suffering (Oxford), The Believing Primate: Scientific, Philosophical, and Theological Reflections on the Origin of Religion (Oxford, with Jeffrey Schloss), On Predestination and Election (Yale) and Divine Evil? (Oxford, with Michael Rea and Michael Bergmann).
 
 
Julien Musolino is a Franco-American cognitive scientist, public speaker, author, and associate professor at Rutgers University, New Brunswick, where he holds a dual appointment in the psychology department and the Center for Cognitive Science. Born and raised in France, Julien studied at the University of Geneva, in neighboring Switzerland, the University of North Wales, Bangor, in the United Kingdom, the University of Maryland, and the University of Pennsylvania. He is the author of numerous scientific articles, and is regularly invited to give lectures in the United States and around the world. The aim of Julien’s scientific work is to understand the functioning and development of aspects of the human mind such as language, reasoning, and critical thinking. His research has been funded by the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation. Julien’s recent work focuses on the implications of the sciences of mind for a range of issues at the interface between science and society. The goal of this work is to promote the role, understanding, and importance of science, reason, and critical thinking, especially in a country like the United States. Julien has appeared on national television, his work has been discussed in popular magazines, and he has been a guest on radio and podcast programs in the United States and abroad.
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Convocation Hall
31 King's College Circle
Toronto, ON M5S 1A1
Canada

Friday, January 25, 2019 from 7:00 PM to 10:00 PM (EST)


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Wycliffe College, University of Toronto

Wycliffe College is a graduate theological school for evangelical Christian life and thought, with a primary task of training leaders for the Church both in Canada and abroad, and a secondary task of preparing scholars for the academy. It is a seminary in the Anglican tradition, with diverse groups of students from over fifty different denominations.

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