Once every week while school is in session, EECS invites a distinguished researcher or practitioner in a computer science or electrical and computer engineering-related field to present their ideas and/or work. Talks are generally targeted to electrical engineering and computer science graduate students. This colloquium series is free and open to everyone.

Upcoming Colloquia

Abstraction and Analogy in Natural and Artificial Intelligence

Wednesday, October 21, 2020 - 1:00pm to 2:00pm

Speaker Information

Prof Melanie Mitchell
Santa Fe Institute


In 1955, John McCarthy and colleagues proposed an AI summer research project with the following aim: “An attempt will be made to find how to make machines use language, form abstractions and concepts, solve kinds of problems now reserved for humans, and improve themselves.” More than six decades later, all of these research topics remain open and actively investigated in the AI community. While AI has made dramatic progress over the last decade in areas such as vision, natural language processing, and robotics, current AI systems still almost entirely lack the ability to form humanlike concepts and abstractions.

Some cognitive scientists have proposed that analogy-making is a central mechanism for conceptual abstraction and understanding in humans. Douglas Hofstadter called analogy-making “the core of cognition”, and Hofstadter and co-author Emmanuel Sander noted, “Without concepts there can be no thought, and without analogies there can be no concepts.” In this talk I will reflect on the role played by analogy-making at all levels of intelligence, and on prospects for developing AI systems with humanlike abilities for abstraction and analogy.

Speaker Bio

Melanie Mitchell is the Davis Professor at the Santa Fe Institute. Her current research focuses on conceptual abstraction, analogy-making, and visual recognition in artificial intelligence systems. Melanie is the author or editor of six books and numerous scholarly papers in the fields of artificial intelligence, cognitive science, and complex systems. Her book Complexity: A Guided Tour (Oxford University Press) won the 2010 Phi Beta Kappa Science Book Award and was named by Amazon.com as one of the ten best science books of 2009. Her latest book is Artificial Intelligence: A Guide for Thinking Humans (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux).

Past Colloquia

Zico Kolter
Wednesday, October 14, 2020 - 1:00pm to 2:00pm
Mark Guzdial
Monday, May 11, 2020 - 11:00pm to 11:50pm
Alfred O. Hero III
Monday, April 27, 2020 - 11:00pm to 11:50pm
Yuejie Chi
Monday, April 13, 2020 - 11:00pm to 11:50pm
Shay Deutsch
Tuesday, February 25, 2020 - 12:00am to 12:50am
Jed Irvine
Tuesday, February 18, 2020 - 12:00am to 12:50am
Minsuk Kahng
Wednesday, February 5, 2020 - 9:00pm to 10:00pm