SSE Public Seminar – ‘AI: Can Human Intelligence Be Simulated?’

HABIB UNIVERSITY: A Public Seminar titled ‘AI: Can Human Intelligence Be Simulated?’, organized by the School of Science & Engineering, was held October 20, 2015 at the Tariq Rafi Lecture Theater. The talk featured Mr. Ahmed Raza, who is an assistant professor in the Faculty of Computer Science at the Institute of Business Administration, Karachi. Mr. Raza holds a master’s degree in mathematics from King’s College, Cambridge University.

The seminar, focused on an idea that has long gripped the imagination of everyone – general public, philosophers and scientists alike – was attended by faculty from both Schools at Habib University, as well as students and the general public. Mr. Raza’s talk revolved around the arguments and themes developed by Sir Roger Penrose, the great English mathematical physicist and philosopher of science. Though he acknowledged that computers are rapidly evolving into faster and ‘smarter’ machines, Mr. Raza used mathematico-physical arguments to disprove the idea that idea that human intelligence could be computationally simulated.

Mr. Raza’s lecture had spiritual and philosophical dimensions, aside from the purely mathematical ones. He argued through mathematical reasoning that we cannot create systems (algorithms) that can compute the entire range of possibilities of our sentient existence due to the inherent shortcomings of such systems – i.e., in the words of one member of the audience: algorithms and theorems only approximate reality in an ‘idealized’ frame of reference, but never perfectly capture it; therefore, they can never be used to ‘replicate’ reality in the truest sense of the word. The talk was provocative in as much as it prompted those attending to ask themselves: “Can science ever teach us how to replicate what theists insist is a ‘miracle of God’?”

Of course, Mr. Raza’s position is not definitive. Computer scientists, mathematicians, physicists and philosophers have dismantled some of the assumptions in Penrose’s arguments and debated and argued extensively against it. The SSE is now organizing a follow-up to this seminar where a counter-argument will be presented by faculty member Dr. Jibran Rashid. Details for this event, which will again be open to the public, will be announced soon.


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