Lovelace lecture 2013

“I think, therefore I am”: is the mind computable?

Speaker: Grady Booch, Chief Scientist of Software Engineering at IBM Research.

The human race may be singular, unique across all of time and space. It may be just one of multitudes. Most likely, however, it is an extremely rare thing, an exquisitely precious consequence of the unfolding of the laws of the universe. Still, one truth that we can assert with confidence is that we are. We are self-aware; we know that we know we exist. And yet, we don't want to be alone in our existence; there seems to be within humanity a drive to create machines in our own image.

From the Golem of Jewish mythology, to Leonardo’s robot, to the contemporary Kenshiro robot, we project our hopes and our fears into cunning mechanisms that mirror us. While these anthropomorphic robots are interesting, there is a less visible revolution taking place in cognitive computing, whose advances are not only helping us better understand the operation of the human brain, but are also leading us to create the illusion of sentience.

This lecture will explore the development of intelligent computers as projections both of what we dream and fear, examining what it means to be intelligent and taking a journey through past and future approaches to building sentient software-intensive systems. Some, such as Minsky, believe the mind to be computable; others such as Penrose do not. In the end, we are compelled to consider the question of what it means to be human.

Main lecture

Q&A session

About the speaker

Grady Booch is recognised internationally for his innovative work in improving the art and science of software development. In the role of Chief Scientist of Software Engineering at IBM Research, Grady has served as architect and architectural mentor for numerous complex software-intensive systems around the world, in just about every domain imaginable. The author of six best-selling books, Grady has published several hundred articles on computing and has lectured around the world on topics as diverse as software methodology and the morality of computing. He is an IBM Fellow, an ACM Fellow, an IEEE Fellow, a World Technology Network Fellow, and a Software Development Forum Visionary.