Vint Cerf talks about Human Thinking vs. Machine Thinking

Vint Cerf talks about Human Thinking vs. Machine Thinking

Cerf, universally regarded as one of the “co-fathers” of the Internet, presented “What IF Machines Thought Like Humans?” as part of Purdue University’s Ideas Festival, the centerpiece of the University’s Giant Leaps Sesquicentennial Campaign. Cerf’s talk aligned with the festival’s theme of AI, Algorithms and Automation: Balancing Humanity and Technology. The April 5 event held was sponsored by the College of Engineering.

Mr. Nguyen Anh Tuan, CEO of The Boston Global Forum, presents the plaque of World Leader in AI World Society Award to the Father of the Internet Vint Cerf.

“The topic, in my brief introduction here, is about artificial intelligence. I confess to you I always thought artificial intelligence might be best described as ‘Artificial Idiocy,’” Cerf said. “Machine learning and multi-layer neural networking are not necessarily the same as general artificial intelligence. General artificial intelligence has to do with the ability of a system to take a lot of input and formulate a real-world model of a conceptual idea in order to reason about the model.”

Cerf asked the audience to think of a simple table to further explain the difference between human thinking and a machine’s way of thinking.

He explained that we do not usually think of a table as a “flat surface that is perpendicular to the gravitational field” but that is what it is. Instead, we think of a table as an object to sit things upon. After humans understand the properties of this table, then they can easily identify other objects that can be used as tables. This is how humans can generalize abstract concepts of things quickly compared to a machine where abstract concepts are harder to learn from a simple input.

“As humans, we take-real world objects, abstract these models, reason about them and then apply what we have learned. I find that way of thinking to be missing in most artificial intelligence projects,” Cerf said.

More details of his speech can be found here.

The Boston Global Forum honored Vint Cerf as World Leader in AI World Society Award at AIWS-G7 Summit Conference April 25, 2019 at Loeb House, Harvard University. His acceptance speech can be found here.

Allan Cytryn’s discussion with Professor Neil Gershenfeld

Allan Cytryn’s discussion with Professor Neil Gershenfeld

Allan Cytryn, member of AI World Society Standards and Practice Committee, discussed with Professor Neil Gershenfeld with questions below:

  1. The historical barrier between computation and production has been a de facto constraint, or control, on what AI might do. But once AI can link up with manufacturing, that control is eliminated. What are the implications and what actions should be taken?
  2. In discussing the corollaries between computation and genetics, the question then arises, “What is life”? And will the linking of bits and atoms therefore allow AI to create life? Can we then interfere with the creation of life by AI, even if the life is unknown and unrecognizable to us?
  3. The discussion begins with a review of the scaling of computer power to brain power, but other researchers have said that computers do not possess cognitive skills, they lack the structures in the brain that produce cognitive behavior. Is this distinction material? If not, why not? If so, what are the implications?
  4. A key issue on AI is “transparency” and there are legitimate efforts to pursue increased transparency. But many people are now viewing this as potentially limited, since it assumes an anthropomorphic notion of intelligence and communication, which may not be relevant to non-humans. If we can’t understand what the machines are doing, how do we know what they might be building and whether that is good or bad?
  5. If the achievement of bits and atoms devolves all existing social structures, doesn’t that return mankind to a Hobbesian state. Consider, if the state is providing the universal fab infrastructure, but that same infrastructure destroys the state, then won’t there be a survival of the fittest, mad-max type of competition to lawlessly (if the state has devolved, there is no law) seize control of the means of production for power and advantage?

Professor Gershenfeld’s full speech at AIWS Summit 2019 can be found here.

Professor Alex ‘Sandy’ Pentland’s talk at the AIWS Summit

Professor Alex ‘Sandy’ Pentland’s talk at the AIWS Summit

Former Governor Michael Dukakis wrote in his letter calling for contributions to the AI World Society (AIWS) Summit, “The real world applications of AI will bring revolutionary changes and will have profound effects on the future of humanity. The changes will bring challenges to societal norms and economic models that we have relied on for decades. And we would be wise to prepare for all that will mean…” But, “our national governments have been slow to act. And international bodies such as the United Nations have yet to effectively address the problem.”

The AIWS Summit is filling in this void, serving as a place where the brightest minds on the planet can work together, to find the innovative solutions that will help us build a brighter future. This week, we are pleased to present a talk by MIT Professor Alex ‘Sandy’ Pentland for the AIWS Summit.

Professor Alex ‘Sandy’ Pentland speaks with Mr. Nguyen Anh Tuan, Director of Michael Dukakis Institute for Leadership and Innovation.

Professor Pentland directs the Connection Science and Human Dynamics labs at MIT. He is one of the most-cited scientists in the world, and Forbes recently declared him one of the “7 most powerful data scientists in the world” along with Google founders and the Chief Technical Officer of the United States. He co-led the World Economic Forum discussion in Davos that led to the EU privacy regulation GDPR, and was central in forging the transparency and accountability mechanisms in the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.  He has received numerous awards and prizes such as the McKinsey Award from Harvard Business Review, the 40th Anniversary of the Internet from DARPA, and the Brandeis Award for work in privacy.

In his talk for AIWS Summit, Professor Pentland introduced a key project of his research group about techniques and open-source software for helping countries and companies deal with AI in a way that is effective, efficient, but also ethical. In today’s world where data is everywhere, most in the hands of private companies, he raised the question as to how this data can be used by governments, social and civic systems such that it is trustworthy and unbiased and that people understand what is happening.

He talked about his method of Open Algorithms as a way to address this question. He advocates the idea of leaving data where it is collected and have open algorithms answer inquiries about the data, instead of transferring all the data into one single pool. The latter is vulnerable to concerns about security, ownership, and privacy.

In his proposed framework, there should be a decentralized federation of different players and interests that agree to answer certain questions for certain functions such that everyone can audit. We can keep track of what questions are being asked about what data, and the people who collected or own the data can monitor the entire process. Decisions made by a country can be audited, or questions about fairness or bias can be answered, because we now have a record of what was done with the data and who did it.

Several countries, including Estonia, Israel, and Australia, have adopted this framework and conducted pilot projects to explore how to get better insights about the country from the public-private data partnership and come up with better policies to serve their people.

The full video of Professor Penland’s talk can be seen here.



The field of AI research was founded more than 50 years ago. In June of 1956, a few dozen scientists from all around the country gathered for a meeting on the campus of Dartmouth College. What they were talking about was how to build a machine that could think.

Many years later, in 2009, some of the pioneers of the field, joined by later generations of thinkers, were gearing up for a massive “do-over” of the whole idea. The new project was called the Mind Machine Project (MMP). Prof. Neil Gershenfeld, Director of MIT’s Center for Bits and Atoms, is one of the leaders of MMP. One of the project’s goals was to create intelligent machines — “whatever that means,” he recalled.

On May 15, 2019, at MIT’s Center for Bits and Atoms, Prof. Gershenfeld gave a keynote talk at the AI World Society Summit 2019 about the future of AI and how the digital world relates to the physical world – the boundary between them.

“It appears that we are in an AI revolution, but it is really important to be aware that we’re now in its fifth boom-and-bust cycle,” said Gershenfeld. The boom and bust cycle refers to the alternating phases of economic growth and decline. What he meant is that, “there are cycles where AI is going to solve all the problems and where AI is going to fail, and we have been through five of those”. What is different today, he explained, is thanks to the advances in computing technology, the computers have caught up to the capability of the brain in terms of the number of operations that can be performed.

Gershenfeld talked about two of the fathers of Computing, Alan Turing and John Von Neumann, emphasizing that Turing’s final study was about how genes give rise to form and Von Neumann’s final study was about self-replicating machines, how a machine can communicate its computation for its own construction. “Literally, the mother of all AI problems is the revolution of AI itself, how intelligence creates intelligence,” said Gershenfeld.

He considered finding representations being the heart of AI. “How to search data has not really changed. What AI algorithms do is to represent where is an interesting place to search. In the same sense, evolution searches over programs that create lives by finding the beautiful representation for the evolutionary search.”

He focused his talk on where we would be ahead of the scaling curve of AI. “We are really living through the third digital revolution”. The first two were digital computing and digital communication; in a nutshell, by digitalization, we can really perform reliable operations using imperfect devices.

The third digital revolution extends this insight into fabrication. He proposed that, with digital fabrication, we can digitalize not just the description of a design but also the materials that it is made from, in the same way that living systems are assembled from a small set of amino acids. A problem with today’s AI, he said, is that AI does not have a “body”, and with digital fabrication, we are getting closer to real AI.

Digital fabrication is challenging fundamental assumptions about the nature of work, money and government. It is a significant breakthrough and will have a big impact on shaping the future of AI. The full video of Professor Gershenfeld’s talk can be found here.

AI World Society Summit 2019

AI World Society Summit 2019

AI World Society Summit 2019

Alliance of civic societies, non-government organizations, and thought leaders for a safe, peaceful, and Next Generation Democracy.



A high-level international discussion about AI governance for a safe, peaceful, and Next Generation Democracy.

Organized by Boston Global Forum, and World Leadership Alliance-Club de Madrid, and sponsored by the government of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Outcome: recommendations, suggestions for initiatives, solutions, and policies to build a society and world more peaceful, safer, and democratic with AI; the new social and economy revolution with AI that will shape better and bright futures in equality of opportunities in contribution, transparency, openness, in which capital and wealth cannot corrupt democracy, citizens will be recognized, rewarded and have a good life.


Combine between online and offline.

Moderators: Governor Michael Dukakis, and Nguyen Anh Tuan

Speakers: leaders of governments, political leaders, business leaders, prominent professors, thoughtleaders. Governor Michael Dukakis will send inviation leters to speakers to introduce mission, topics, outcome of the AI World Society Summit 2019.

Speakers can send their talks by video clip (maximum 30 minutes) or text to Content Team of the AI World Society Summit 2019, then the Content Team will post to AI World Society Summit section of Boston Global Forum’s website and deliver to other speakers, and discussants, and then their talks will be submitted to G7 Summit 2019 as a part of AIWS-G7 Summit Initiative.


The father of the Internet Vint Cerf

President of World Leadership Alliance-Club de Madrid Vaira Vike-Freiberga

Professor Neil Gershenfeld, MIT

Professor Professor Alex ‘Sandy’ Pentland, MIT

Professor Jason Furman, Harvard

Professor Joseph Nye, Harvard

Professor Thomas Patterson, Harvard

Professor Nazli Choucri, MIT

Professor David Parkes, Harvard

Professor Constantinos (“Costis”) Daskalakis, MIT

Professor David Silbersweig, Harvard

Professor Max Tegmark, MIT

Professor Philip Howard, Oxford

Professor Thomas Creely, Naval War College

Marc Rutenberg, President of EPIC

Paul Nemitz, Policymakers, European Commission

Liam Byrne, MP, UK

Nam Pham, Assistant Secretary of Business Dev & International Trade  the Government of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts

David Bray, Executive Director, The People-Centered Internet coalition


Professor Koichi Hamada, Yale University, Economic Adviser to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe

Professor Jeffrey Shaw, Naval War College

Professor Mikhail Kupriyanov, LETI University , Russia

Ambassador Ichiro Fujisaki, President of Nakasone Peace Institute

Kazuo Yano, Hitachi

Eliot Weinman, AI World

Michael Krigsman, CXO Talk

Philippe Le Corre, Harvard

Mariko Gakiya, Harvard

Kevin Roose, New York Times

Allan Cytryn, Michael Dukakis Institute

Bill Ottman, CEO and Co-founder of Minds

Former Prime Minister of Australia, Peru, and former presidents, former prime ministers.

OECD experts

Professors, Scholars of Oxford, Cambridge, Stanford, Berkeley, Harvard, MIT

Content Team: edit, manage content, invite and engage speakers, discussants

Professor Thomas Patterson

Professor Nazli Choucri

Professor Thomas Creely

Professor Jeffrey Shaw

Dick Pirozzolo

Barry Nolan

David Bray

Nguyen Phan Nguyet Minh

Time: start April 25, 2019 at AI World Society – G7 Summit Conference to August 5, 2019.