Can AI Understand Us? presented by Dr. Tomek Strzalkowski, Professor of Cognitive Science and Computer Science

Date: 9/13

Location: Winslow 1140

Time: 3-4pm

As AI marches on and claims more corners of our human world – from gene sequencing to creative writing to self-driving cars to population modeling, and on and on – two questions arise: Does AI understand its surroundings? Does AI understand us?

While the Large Language Models (LLMs) and their multimedia cousins can answer complex questions, solve math puzzles, write A-grade essays, masquerade as Tom Cruise, create astonishing art, and even hold seemingly purposeful conversations, do they really know what they’re doing? Do they understand the impact they are having on human beings and society? Many people, including scientists and politicians, have sounded the alarm about baked-in biases that create unintended consequences. If the progress of AI cannot be stopped, can the technology be tamed and made aware of its fragile surroundings?

In this Tetherless World Constellation talk, Professor Strzalkoski will give a brief overview of his wide-ranging research program that he and his students have pursued over the years with the goal of answering some of these questions. He will focus primarily on the issues of human-machine interaction with perspectives drawing from the social sciences, social media, and serious games.

Dr. Tomek Strzalkowski is Professor of Cognitive Science and Computer Science at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) where he directs the Language and Cognition Artificial Intelligence lab ( Prior to joining RPI in 2019, he was a Professor of Computer Science and Director of the University at Albany’s Institute for Informatics, Logics, and Security Studies. Between 1994 and 2000, he was a Principal Scientist at General Electric (GE) Research & Development in Niskayuna, heading the Natural Language Group. Before arriving at GE, he was research faculty at the Courant Institute of New York University. Professor Strzalkowski has done research in computational linguistics and sociolinguistics, information retrieval, question-answering, human-computer dialogue, serious games, social media analytics, formal semantics, and reversible grammars. He serves on the Editorial Board of the Journal of Natural Language Engineering and is a fellow of the Association for Computational Linguistics.


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