Minds in Machines: Comparing Biological and Synthetic Intelligence


Information for
The incredible explosion in the power of artificial intelligence is evident in daily headlines proclaiming big breakthroughs.  What are the remaining differences between machine and human intelligence?  Could we simulate a brain on current computer hardware if we could write the software?  What are the latest advancements in the world's largest brain model?  Participate in the discussion about what AI has done and how far it has yet to go, while discovering new technologies that might allow it to get there.
Live streamed video of this lecture will be available on this website.
Chris Eliasmith


Philosophy, Engineering, Computer Science

CHRIS ELIASMITH is the Director of the Centre for Theoretical Neuroscience (CTN) at the University of Waterloo. The CTN brings together researchers across many faculties who are interested in computational and theoretical models of neural systems. Dr Eliasmith was recently elected to the new Royal Society of Canada College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists, one of only 90 Canadian academics to receive this honour. He is also a Canada Research Chair in Theoretical Neuroscience. His book, 'How to build a brain' (Oxford, 2013), describes the Semantic Pointer Architecture for constructing large-scale brain models. His team built what is currently the world's largest functional brain model, 'Spaun', and the first to demonstrate realistic behaviour under biological constraints. This ground-breaking work was published in Science (November, 2012) and has been featured by CNN, BBC, Der Spiegel, Popular Science, National Geographic and CBC among many other media outlets, and was awarded the NSERC Polayni Prize for 2015.

Paul Thagard

Philosophy/Cognitive Science

Media Folder: 




PAUL THAGARD is a philosopher, cognitive scientist, and author of many interdisciplinary books. He is Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at the University of Waterloo, where he founded and directed the Cognitive Science Program. He is a graduate of the Universities of Saskatchewan, Cambridge, Toronto (PhD in philosophy) and Michigan (MS in computer science). He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, the Cognitive Science Society, and the Association for Psychological Science. The Canada Council has awarded him a Molson Prize (2007) and a Killam Prize (2013). His books include: The Cognitive Science of Science: Explanation, Discovery, and Conceptual Change (MIT Press, 2012); The Brain and the Meaning of Life (Princeton University Press, 2010); Hot Thought: Mechanisms and Applications of Emotional Cognition (MIT Press, 2006); and Mind: Introduction to Cognitive Science (MIT Press, 1996; second edition, 2005). Oxford University Press will publish his 3-book Treatise on Mind and Society in early 2019.


Wednesday, October 17, 2018 - 7:30pm
Vanstone Lecture Hall, St. Jerome's University Academic Centre 
Sponsored by: 

St. Jerome's University
University of Waterloo, Faculty of Arts
University of Waterloo, Faculty of Mathematics
University of Waterloo, Faculty of Science
Fields Institute