Accessibility Skip to Global Navigation Skip to Local Navigation Skip to Content Skip to Search Skip to Site Map Menu

Inaugural Professorial Lecture – Professor Alistair Knott

AI: Good Magic, and Defence Against the Dark Arts

My field of research is Artificial Intelligence, or “AI”. During the time I have been working in this field, it has undergone a bona fide scientific revolution. Revolutions aren't that common in science – in my talk, I'll reflect on what it's been like to be in the middle of one.

I'll first talk about how the AI revolution has impacted my own research area of cognitive science. My main interest is in the human faculty of language: how does the brain implement our amazing ability to speak about what we see, and think, and do? I've explored these questions for many years as a university academic. More recently I've also explored them with the Auckland company Soul Machines, which I have collaborated with since it was founded in 2016. Many advances in AI now come from commercial companies, and Soul Machines is no exception: I'll give a taste of some of the work I'm doing at Soul Machines, and discuss how its frankly dazzling AI technologies may offer interesting new insights into models of cognition.

While AI technologies can help advance science, their proliferation in society can also be a scary prospect. Are AI systems going to take our jobs? Are they making decisions that would be better left to people? AI systems are at the heart of social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter: what effect are these systems having on the thought processes of their billions of users? I think AI researchers have a responsibility to worry about these questions, and to lead a public debate about the proper uses of the models they build. In the second part of my talk I'll discuss some work I've done in this area, at Otago's very own Ministry of Magic, the Centre for AI and Public Policy.

Streaming information

The lecture will be live-streamed from 5:30pm, 26 April 2022, at the following web address:

Professor Alistair Knott's IPL video stream

Date Tuesday, 26 April 2022
Time 5:30pm - 6:30pm
Audience Public,Undergraduate students,Postgraduate students,Staff,Alumni
Event Category Sciences
Event Type Lecture
DepartmentComputer Science
Contact NameKirsten Forsyth
Contact Phone+64 3 479 4301

Save this event