Cognition and Consciousness: An Ongoing Inquiry


This is the home page of a new working group of the Center for Science in Society at Bryn Mawr College. The working group has as its mission the enhancement of conversations related to the cognitive sciences, and will be sponsoring visiting speakers, holding workshops, and assembling relevant web resources. All interested faculty/students/staff are invited to participate. For further information, contact Doug Blank.

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If you build a robot smart enough to do the dishes, will it also be smart enough to find them boring?

The Working Group and Center for Science in Society Presents

What Is It Like To Be A Puppet? 
and Performed by 
Tom Sgouros 

A lot of claims have been made lately about the intelligence of computers. Some researchers say that computers will eventually attain super-human intelligence. Others call these claims... um, poppycock. Oddly, in the search for the truth of the matter, both camps have overlooked an obvious strategy: interviewing a computer and asking its opinion. Intrepid researcher Sgouros has leapt into this lacuna, and presents some preliminary findings in a new not-quite-solo show. (You could call it "My Dinner with Android.") 

Thomas Great Hall on Wednesday, March 27, at 7 p.m.

The performance, a humorous dialogue between a man and the robot he has created, is sponsored by the Center for Science in Society. The show will be followed by a panel discussion of issues of cognition, consciousness, and performance, moderated by cognitive scientist and robotics enthusiast Douglas Blank of Bryn Mawr's Computer Science Department. Bryn Mawr neurobiologist Paul Grobstein, artificial-intelligence expert Deepak Kumar, dramaturg Mark Lord and psychologist Anjali Thapar will participate in the discussion.

Join continuing on-line forum discussion

Sgouros, who has a background in circus performance as well as the writing and production of documentary films, has written and performed seven different solo shows, many of which touch on scientific issues. Judy, alternatively titled My Dinner With Android, has won rave reviews from both theater critics and philosophers of mind. Says Daniel Dennett, author of Consciousness Explained and director of the Tufts University Center for Cognitive Studies: "Tom Sgouros's witty play, co-starring the charming robot Judy, is an imagination-stretcher that delights while it exercises your mind. If you think you can't imagine a conscious robot, you're wrong -- you can, especially once you've met Judy."

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