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Events for Thursday May 6, 2021

Public Lecture, IAS - Avi Wigderson, "Imitation Games"


Thursday May 6, 2021
3:30 PM

One of Alan Turing's most in?uential papers is his 1950 Computing machinery and intelligence, in which he introduces the famous "Turing test" for probing the nature of intelligence by evaluating the abilities of machines to behave as humans. In this test, which he calls the "Imitation Game," a (human) referee has to distinguish between two (remote and separate) entities, a human and a computer, only by observing answers to a sequence of arbitrary questions to each entity. Mountains of words have been written on support, critique, variants of and experimentation with this idea and its value. It is not the purpose of this lecture to discuss this body of work.

Instead, this lecture will exposit, through examples from a surprisingly diverse array of settings, the remarkable power of this idea, as revealed in the past few decades of work in the theory of computation and discrete mathematics. Wigderson will discuss variations of the Imitation Game in which we change the nature of the referee, and of the objects to be distinguished, to yield analogs of the Turing test (often called "the simulation paradigm" or "computational indistinguishability" among others in different contexts).

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