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University of Auckland Conference Centre

Building 423 (423-342)

22 Symonds Street

Auckland, 1010

New Zealand

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Professor Michael Witbrock's inaugural lecture

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Humans are quite good at thinking, relative to other animals, plants, and rocks. But we are, perhaps, sometimes not as good at it as we might be. Fortunately, perhaps, our ability to think has given us the means to upgrade our ability to think, both at an individual and at a civilisational level. The development of language, accounting, the scientific method, and human rights, among many others, can all be viewed as software upgrades for individual, group, and civilisational thinking. None of these upgrades have come without both costs and benefits. This view of our history makes the accelerating rise of computational and recently Artificial Intelligence technologies seem almost inevitable.

In this talk, we’ll survey some of the upgrades that most directly predicted the path towards broadly capable AI, look at indicators that such AI is fairly imminent, including work we’re doing here in NZ. Finally, we’ll touch on the enormous opportunities and risks of this AI-based upgrade for individuals, organisations, societies and human civilisation.

Michael Witbrock is a professor of computer science at The University of Auckland, building a research group, the Broad AI Lab, integrating machine learning, reasoning and natural language understanding, with an additional focus on maximizing the near-term benefit of AI to NZ entrepreneurs and business, and more generally achieving the best social and civilizational impacts of increasingly powerful AI. Prof. Witbrock's PhD is in Computer Science from Carnegie Mellon, and he holds a BSc(Hons) in Psychology from Otago. Before joining the University, he was a Distinguished Research Staff Member at IBM T J Watson Research Center in Yorktown Heights, NY.

Refreshments will be served in the Conference Centre foyer (423-300L1) from 5:30pm, prior to the lecture.

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University of Auckland Conference Centre

Building 423 (423-342)

22 Symonds Street

Auckland, 1010

New Zealand

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