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Dartmouth symposium to consider mechanisms that underlie humanity

Dartmouth College Office of Public Affairs • Press Release
Posted 03/19/08 • Susan Knapp • (603) 646-3661

"The Human Algorithm" will be held May 9-10, 2008

Can computers simulate the complex workings of the human brain? Can algorithms replicate our humanity? What brain mechanisms separate humans from apes? From robots? On May 9-10, Dartmouth's Neukom Institute will host "The Human Algorithm," a conference that will examine work currently underway to computationally analyze the rules that govern the human brain and human behavior.

Richard Granger
Rick Granger helped organize the Human Algorithm conference (photo by Joseph Mehling '69)

"Many disciplines today are working to understand and recreate the processes and mechanisms of the human brain," says Richard Granger,an organizer of the conference and a professor of psychological and brain sciences. "This symposium gathers researchers from neuroscience, philosophy, computer science, mathematics, and biology together to share their knowledge of how humans think."

The Human Algorithm is free, but registration is required. To sign up, call 603-646-8737 or email. The complete schedule for The Human Algorithm can be found at the Neukom Institute website.

Guest speakers include:

  • Daniel Dennett, author of Breaking the Spell (Viking, 2006) and Freedom Evolves (Viking Penguin, 2003), is the Austin B. Fletcher Professor of Philosophy and the co-director of the Center for Cognitive Studies at Tufts University. His research and writings often contemplate the idea of consciousness, and the inherent struggle between science and religion.
  • Patricia Smith Churchland, chair of the philosophy department at the University of California San Diego, works at the crossroads of neuroscience and philosophy. Her work explores the impact of scientific developments on our understanding of the self, free will, decision making and the neurobiological basis of consciousness.
  • Harvard Professor Marc Hauser works to understand how humans decide what is morally right or wrong, and he'll present finding from his enormous internet-based study involving more than 200,000 subjects. Hauser is the co-director of the Mind, Brain, and Behavior Program and the director of the Cognitive Evolution Lab both at Harvard.

In addition to Granger, Dartmouth speakers include William M. Kelley and Peter Tse, both associate professors of psychological and brain sciences; Jim Haxby, The Evans Family Distinguished Professor, also in the psychological and brain sciences department; Walter Sinnott-Armstrong, professor of philosophy who also holds the Robert C. 1925 and Hilda Hardy Professorship of Legal Studies; and Adina Roskies, assistant professor of philosophy.

Dartmouth has television (satellite uplink) and radio (ISDN) studios available for domestic and international live and taped interviews. For more information, call 603-646-3661 or see our Radio, Television capability webpage.

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