Vint Cerf talks about Human Thinking vs. Machine Thinking

Jun 16, 2019News

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.