John Templeton Foundation

Above: Mathematician, logician, and computer pioneer, Alan Turing sought to define logical systems modeled on interconnected neurons.

Credits: Photo © Sam Ogden (robot COG), Copyright © P.N. Furbank ("On Computable Numbers" excerpt), and © National Portrait Gallery, London (Turing portrait).
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  Contact: Mary Ann Meyers, Ph.D., Senior Fellow 

In the 70th anniversary year of Alan Turing’s groundbreaking paper “On Computable Numbers,” which is widely recognized as having laid a theoretical foundation for the computer revolution of the twentieth century, this symposium explores the current understanding of human creativity from scientific and philosophical perspectives. The year 2006 also marks the centennial of the reception of the Nobel Prize by Santiago Ramón y Cajal and Camillo Golgi for their discovery of neuron structures in the brain and the 25th anniversary of the awarding of the Nobel Prize to Roger Sperry for his work on information processing in the brain. The symposium takes note of their stunning achievements by focusing on creativity in the borderland between mathematics (computation), artificial intelligence, and neuroscience. In particular, the twelve scientists and philosophers meeting at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) are investigating whether or not there are any intrinsic differences between creativity of the mind and “creativity” of artificial intelligence and whether or not the former can be captured or modeled fully by mathematical and/or mechanical processes. Key questions include: Are there intrinsic differences between the human mind and mechanical intelligence? Is the logic of a Turing machine (or its extensions and generalizations) sufficient to capture the creative workings of a human brain? Will artificial intelligence ever think and feel like the human mind? How do we deal with “subjective experiences” in machine modeling? What is the nature of machine creativity? What are the limits (if there are any) of artificial intelligence in the creative generation of ideas? Can creativity be effectively automated? What is the relationship between randomness and creativity? What are the roles of randomness in computation? What is the relationship, if any, between uncomputability and creativity? Are there any limits to mathematical modeling in the investigation of abilities of the human mind such as creativity? How can we, and up to what point can we, describe human creativity with mathematical models? How do mathematical and other human creativities relate to each other and to machine creativity? Can there be a grand background theory that would encompass all systems that “exhibit” creativity? Under the aegis of the John Templeton Foundation, the investigators probing such fundamental issues gather at the architecturally daring Stata Center, a building with tilted columns and swerving walls designed for MIT by Frank Gehry and described by the Boston Globe architecture critic Robert Campbell as “a metaphor for . . . creativity.”