CANCELLED - "The Promise of AI - Reckoning and Judgment” - Book Talk and Reception

When and Where

Thursday, March 19, 2020 4:00 pm to 7:00 pm
4th Floor, Inforum
Bissell Building
140 St. George Street


Brian Cantwell Smith


The KMDI and the Faculty of Information are proud to present a book talk and reception celebrating the publication of Professor Brian Cantwell Smith's provocative new book The Promise of Artificial Intelligence: Reckoning and Judgement (MIT Press, 2019). The talk will focus on key themes from the book, which argues that despite dramatic advances, AI is nowhere near developing systems that are genuinely intelligent. Professor Smith's lively and engaging presentation will be followed by a reception and book signing. This is a licensed event and light refreshments will be served.

Book talk: 4pm
Reception and signing: 5:30pm

New developments in Artificial Intelligence (AI), particularly deep learning and other forms of “second-wave” AI, are attracting enormous public attention. Triumphalists are predicting that human-level AI is “just around the corner”; doomsayers, that humans face unprecedented threat. To assess the situation more soberly we need a broad understanding of intelligence in terms of which to assess: (i) what kinds of intelligence machines currently have, and will likely have in the future; and (ii) what kinds people have, and also may be capable of in the future. As a first step in this direction, I distinguish two kinds of intelligence: (i) “reckoning,” the kind of calculative rationality that computers excel at, including both first- and second-wave AI; and (ii) “judgment,” a form of dispassionate, deliberative thought, grounded in ethical commitment and responsible action, that is appropriate to the situation in which it is deployed. AI will develop world-changing reckoning systems, I argue, but nothing in AI as currently conceived approaches what is required to build a system capable of judgment.

Brian Cantwell Smith is the Reid Hoffman Chair in Artificial Intelligence and the Human in the Faculty of Information at the University of Toronto, where he is also Professor of Philosophy, Cognitive Science, and the History and Philosophy of Science and Technology, and a Senior Fellow at Massey College.

Smith’s research focuses on the philosophical foundations of computation, artificial intelligence, and mind, and on fundamental issues in metaphysics and epistemology. In the 1980s he developed the world’s first reflective programming language (3Lisp). He is the author of On the Origin of Objects (MIT Press, 1996), and of On the Promise of Artificial Intelligence: Reckoning and Judgment (MIT Press, 2019).

Smith holds BS, MS and PhD degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). From 1981–96 he was a Principal Scientist at the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) and Adjunct Professor of Philosophy at Stanford University. He was a founder of the Center for the Study of Language and Information at Stanford University (CSLI), a founder and first President of Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility (CPSR), and President (1998–99) of the Society for Philosophy and Psychology (SPP). From 1996–2001 he was Professor of Cognitive Science, Computer Science, and Philosophy at Indiana University, and from 2001–03 was Kimberly J. Jenkins University Distinguished Professor of Philosophy and New Technologies at Duke University, with appointments in the departments of Philosophy and Computer Science. He moved to the University of Toronto in 2003, initially serving for five years as Dean of the Faculty of Information.


Knowledge Media Design Institute (KMDI), Faculty of Information