Luca Mari: Chatbots: facing a cultural revolution. And trying to understand it.

September 12, 2023

Tuesday, September 12, 2023

2:00 - 4:00 PM (PDT) at Berkeley Way West 1204 and via Zoom

Open to GSE faculty, students, and community.

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Chatbots are the first non-human entities with which we can have semantically rich conversations in our natural languages. This could drive us to a cultural revolution, which is today still largely underappreciated, but this is understandable by acknowledging the meaning and the consequences of the main feature that characterizes chatbots: in contrast to most other software systems, they are trained, not programmed. The already widespread societal (ethical etc.) concerns generated by the appearance of chatbots are better understood when interpreted as triggered by the first stages of this cultural revolution, that is first of all a cognitive revolution—we are acquiring evidence that some sort of autonomous reasoning is possible in technological entities. Hence, what is happening is soliciting a reflection about we human beings: perhaps we are not cognitively as special as we thought.

These views need to be aired right now because, even though there are already many articles about chatbots published in recent months, most people do not well-enough understand chatbots, and this prevents them appreciating how important they may be. This common lack of understanding is due not only to the technical complexity of what is "inside the box" (something that we do not plan to deal with), but also, and not less importantly, to some widespread stereotypes about intelligence.

About the speaker:

Dr. Luca Mari is a Full Professor of measurement science at Università Carlo Cattaneo - LIUC, Castellanza, Italy, teaching courses on measurement science and statistical data analysis, systems theory, and digital thinking.

His research and dissemination activities span the broad context of information science and technology, from fundamental topics of measurement science to dynamical systems theory and modeling, artificial intelligence, e-learning.

In the international context, he is an International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) expert in the WG2 (VIM) of the Joint Committee for Guides in Metrology (JCGM). He is also the former chair of TC1 (Terminology) and secretary of TC25 (Quantities and units) of the IEC, and chair of TC7 (Measurement Science) of the International Measurement Confederation (IMEKO).